Farmer’s market idea takes root
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Mar 19, 2014, 13:17
HOPEWELL — Though the project is still more than a year from being completed, the Hopewell Downtown Partnership has begun work on opening a farmer’s market in Downtown Hopewell, and it’s a project that has been a vision of the partnership’s, and many in the city for years.
Rita Joyner, board president for the Hopewell Downtown Partnership, is spearheading the project, which she said is in the “infancy and exploration” stages.
The project does not have a projected cost or even a projected date of completion, however the concept of a farmer’s market has already gained momentum and has the support of many in the city.
On March 12, the Hopewell Downtown Partnership posted a facebook comment regarding the proposed farmer’s market in downtown as well as reaching out for volunteers for the project. As of press time, the post has 75 likes, four comments, such as “This is exciting” and “I think it’s a wonderful idea” and been shared three times.
“One of the things a farmer’s market does is promote a sense of community and that’s very important to the Hopewell Downtown Partnership,” Joyner said.
In addition to a sense of community, it is also a project that will enhance the health and wellness of residents in Hopewell and the surrounding communities, a vision that Evan Kaufman, director for the partnership, has held since beginning work with the partnership years ago.
“Part of the Hopewell Downtown Partnership’s mission is creating a healthy, vibrant and prosperous downtown district,” Kaufman said. “Healthy being a key word and that includes the health of residents. From nutrition to exercise to community engagement and social interaction and essentially what that all boils down to is a higher quality of life for the community. The healthier we are in every aspect of that will create a better quality of life which is the ultimate goal of the downtown partnership.”
Both Joyner and Kaufman recalled the recent Ignite Hopewell Event that was held on Feb. 27. Each said the concept of a health and wellness “emerged” and was quite prevalent even with one of the winning participants who presented the idea of an urban garden.
Kaufman, as well as a number of his board and committee members, are passionate about food and health. In addition to a passion about health and wellness, the partnership is also looking to the economic benefits as well.
“People would come down on a Saturday and would be able to shop in the retail stores and perhaps have lunch or breakfast in one of the restaurant,” Joyner said. “We see it as a revenue generator for the existing businesses as well as generating additional revenue for the growers and vendors.”
The vision for the farmer’s market is to have it be a very “interactive” community event, such as live music.
The partnership has been in contact with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. A member of the agency will be conducting an orientation session for those interested in the establishment of the farmer’s market for Hopewell.
Joyner said this process cannot be done overnight, as some of the most successful markets have organizational boards, mission statements and goals and objectives. She also indicated that farmer’s markets operate on strict standards for the farmers and the vendors.
Despite the project having many moving parts to get started and get off the ground, the farmer’s market seems to have an ever growing list of benefits.
“One of the major benefits is being able to provide food and mostly local produce to people in the community,” Kaufman said. “I think local produce has a lot of benefits in that it is fresher and higher in nutritional value. It’s not going to be shipped across the county or the world to get there.”
The organizational and informational meeting for the proposed farmer’s market in downtown Hopewell will be April 3 at 6 p.m. with a location to be determined at a later date. Joyner said those interested in getting involved in the project, such as farmers and growers and volunteers, are encouraged to attend as well as those who will be shopping at the farmer’s market to give input on what produce they would like to see at the market.
For additional information on the proposed farmer’s market and opportunities on how to volunteer with the project, send an email with contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.