With every kind of support except financial from the Wendell Chamber of Commerce, vendors of Wendell’s Farmer’s Market are trying to find a way to continue the town’s market after the chamber said it would not be able to continue operating it next year.
The market was established by the chamber in 2008. Over the past three years, the market relied on funding from a 2012 grant that paid for a part-time market manager.
The grant has now expired and Wendell Town Manager Teresa Piner announced the chamber’s decision not to operate the market in September.
Wendell commissioner Ginna Gray, the board of commissioner’s liason to the chamber of commerce, said vendors have met to figure out a way for them to run the market.
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“The vendors are trying to figure out who will take it on,” Gray said. “It’s a lot of responsibility for one entity.”
Chamber vice president Stacy Bradfield said the ultimate goal that seems to have been set out is to make the market self-sustaining and create a committee to help with that.
She said ideally, the committee will include community volunteers, a town representative and chamber members. It’s still early though and that may change.
In addition to planning logistics and marketing, Wendell’s market had an added responsibility of accepting and processing payments through the state’s Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. Setting up and managing that program often takes extra coordination.
When Wendell first launched its Farmer’s Market in 2008, Raleigh and Wake Forest were the closest towns with markets. Since then, Knightdale, Rolesville and other communities have launched their own markets.
Zebulon received a grant this year and plans to launch a market next spring as well.
Gray said even though the town made it clear they didn’t have any resources to dedicate toward the market, she thinks it’s an important effort to salvage if vendors can find a way.
She also said it may be possible for the town to contribute in ways that don’t require money or other costs.
Even though there are other farmer’s markets Wendell residents can attend, Gray said Wendell’s market was more than a place to get produce and other homemade items. It was also an important nod to the town’s history.
“(The market) is a reflection of our roots,” Gray said. “We are a farming town and the market shows that.”