'Community-driven' market raises funds for fourth season
Last year many regarded farmers markets as safe retail reprieves from the stresses of the pandemic. Now Lauren Carusona is working to make sure the Hoodland Farmers Market is around to provide peace -- and peas -- for summer 2021 by organizing a fundraiser.
Carusona started the Hoodland open-air fair four years ago with the initial motivation of providing a source of healthy, local food on the mountain.
"I started the market because we on the mountain are in a food desert," she explained, adding that now the market has grown to offer so much more.
Vendors have ranged from the expected farm fresh produce, eggs, local meats and preserves to handmade items like soaps, lotions, jewelry and fabric arts.
"If any good can come out of this past year-plus, I hope it's helped people reconnect to the importance of supporting local," Carusona said. "On top of that, (I think the market) gives people that little bit of human connection."
In order to maintain the market, Carusona does need help and as such has created a GoFundMe campaign to allow community members to donate toward the cause. To operate the market there are several costs involved, including 501(c)(3) nonprofit fees, Secretary of State fees, advertisement, signs, insurance and other general supplies, such as trash cans, traffic cones, paper, pens, etc.
Thus far, the GoFundMe has brought in about $385 toward the $2,500 goal.
Those who donate more than $25 will be entered to win one of many weekly raffle drawings. Those who hope to win must make their names visible when completing their GoFundMe transaction.
Drawings will start April 11 and take place every week until opening day on Sunday, May 23. Prizes will include items from local vendors and businesses.
The first market of the season will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, May 23, in the parking lot at the Whistle Stop, 66674 E. Highway 26, Welches.
"This year we're going back to a more in-person (market)," Carusona said of the upcoming season. COVID-19 precautions will of course still be in place and vendors are free continue operating with pre-ordering and pickup, but no-contact systems are not required.
Masks, however, are required, and the market will have a volunteer in charge of monitoring social distancing. Vendors will also be expected to follow special requirements in terms of keeping their space sanitary and not allowing customers to handle products.
The market is also looking for additional volunteers and two new board members, specifically one with financial skills for treasurer work and one who has grant-writing experience.
"I think (the market) brings the community together in a way that helps us support each other," Carusona said. "It also provides a safe environment outdoors for people to see what their neighbors grow, make and create."
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