Sixteen vendors are ready to start the 2012 Farmers' Market season in Wildwood. Market team members are working on improving the offerings of the market's upcoming fourth annual season, Wildwood's Director of Planning and Parks Joe Vujnich told city council members at Monday's meeting.
Vujnich said the team continues to receive questions and comments about the following market items:
- overall quality of the event
- number of vendors during the season
- availability of produce during select times of the year
- cost of the market
- types of sellers participating in the market
In the three years since the market's opening, two different market managers have operated it. is the second and current manager; he started with the market in 2010. He is compensated approximately $16,000 a year to run the market. Wildwood owns the tents that are erected for vendors, and the city provides all the utility services when the market is established in the Town Center Plaza Drive area on Saturdays May through September.
Vujnich said Gaehle plus a combined group of vendors, potential vendor and city staffers recently met to discuss potential changes to this year's market. The list they compiled included these proposed changes:
- Reduce the hours of market operation to 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
- Reduce fees Gaehle assigns to vendors to encourage more participation; new fees may be as low as $25 per week.
- Control the use of resellers through Gaehle to provide a wide variety of produce at the start and finish of this season.
- Provide more city support to the Town Center area during market hours by offering more events on Saturdays.
- Promote the farmers' market better throughout its season.
Vunjich said oftentime, the Tower Grove Farmers' Market is used as an example of the type that Wildwood should offer to its residents. He told council members, however, that market's team operates on a $65,000 budget, and their city's market manager receives $17,000 seasonal compensation. That market will begin its seventh season on May 5.
The Tower Grove market also solicits and accepts sponsorships as an official nonprofit entity. It is supported by these sponsorships, fundraising, memberships (Friends of TGFM), merchandise sales and vendor fees. It deliberately includes artists as well as farmers and ranchers.