Today, July 14, is the opening day of the Farmers Market in Gothenburg, and this year the market is under new management and will see some changes.
Gothenburg High School’s FFA Chapter helped with the Farmers’ Market last year, and this year the students are assuming full management of the Chamber. Katelyn Hetz, a senior at GHS this fall, will serve as market manager. Other members of the leadership team are Avery Salomon, Maddie Cornwell and Kalli Strauser – all three sophomores this year.
The girls, along with FFA Councilor AnnaLisa Mosel, appeared before Gothenburg City Council on June 21 with a request to use Ehmen Park for the Farmer’s Market, as well as a request for a street closure. The park has long been used as a site for the market; however, in the past, vendors were located only on the west side of Avenue F, along the east side of the park. The students submitted a request to close Avenue F between 15th Street and 16th Street every Thursday from 5-7 p.m. starting today and continuing until October 6.
“The city council stipulated that we had to get permission from the owners of the houses on the east side of Avenue F, and we did. The request was therefore approved,” Hetz explained. “We felt like we had to do it for safety reasons.”
Cornwell and Strauser have been busy promoting the marketplace on social media for both sellers and buyers. You can find Gothenburg Farmer’s Market on Facebook and Instagram.
“We’re going to post updates and start posting some of the items that people are selling just to get them excited,” Cornwell explained.
The students printed flyers and left them around town at local businesses where they said they knew potential vendors might see them. They also reached out to vendors who have participated in the market in the past.
“Katelyn, I and Ms Mosel also went to the Kearney Farmers’ Market to try to find vendors there and we sent out flyers encouraging them to contact us if they were interested,” Solomon said.
The girls hope to increase not only the number of vendors this year, but also the variety of products offered in the market. “We have jewelers and artisans that we contacted, flower bouquets and food trucks,” Hetz said. “The Ministry of Agriculture has strict regulations on bakery and canned goods, so we have to be careful to get the right permits.”
Students said vendors are also encouraged to show up on market day if they choose not to pre-register. Daily charges are also an option.
“Last year the price was $50 for the season or $8 for a week. We’ve extended the season this year by three weeks, so it’s a 13-week season. So we raised the price to $75 for the season, but kept the weekly listing price at $8. So it’s a bit higher, but they get more weeks,” Hetz explained.
“We wanted to extend the season a bit into October to get some of those apples, potatoes and pumpkins,” Mosel added.
This year’s market will feature vendors located on both sides of Avenue F between 15th and 16th Streets, and with the street closed, shoppers can walk back and forth without worrying about traffic. It also leaves more room for food trucks.
“We also came up with the idea that sellers could back up their trucks and they wouldn’t have to unload everything every time,” Hetz said. Their goal is to one day see the street full of vendors.
The farmers’ market serves as a SAE (supervised farming experience project) for the four girls, and Hetz said she thinks it’s a great way to promote their chapter.
“I think it also shows how involved the FFA is in the community and that we want to help,” Cornwell added.
Ms. Mosel congratulated the students for their hard work. “The FFA is associated with it, but for these four ladies, it is their project. They manage, I’m just there to supervise and make sure everything is going well. They make the decisions, advertise and do the work with the sellers. They get a lot of responsibility and life skills out of it,” she said.
Salomon came up with the idea of holding a gift card raffle during the market, to help promote businesses that cannot be physically present in the park. “A lot of people are so supportive of this. I don’t even have to ask,” she said with a light laugh.
The FFA will have a Market Information Tent to assist sellers and provide information for programs such as USDA Senior Coupons.
The cowbell will be back this year to signal the start of the market at 5 p.m. sharp, something the girls were excited to share. For anyone interested in participating in the Farmers Market, you can visit the FFA stand during market hours every Thursday, or find them on Facebook. The Gothenburg Chamber of Commerce also has information leaflets at the office on Lake Avenue.