As gloom slopped around town with a depressed economy and a divisive presidential election, Lorian Roethlein sought light.
A farmer’s market seemed a way to enhance the community and provide an outlet for the self-described workaholic.
“We kind of woke up one day,” Roethlein said, and decided, “we want some positive conversation back in town.”
She and her husband have visited various farmer’s markets out West and they wanted to replicate the enjoyable experiences they had.
Moms walk with strollers as they shop for fresh zucchini, Mrs. Jones discovers her neighbor’s daughter won the softball game, and normally busy neighbors stop to talk.
“The driving force for us is we want the sense of community,” Roethlein said. “You don’t meet too many angry people (at a farmer’s market). It’s just a happy type of place.”
The first Community Farmer’s Market will take place on July 4 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Community Presbyterian Church on Main Street.
Small growers, large farmers and bakers will sell fruit, vegetables, goat cheese, fudge, jams and jellies, naturally sweetened fruit butters, and ice cream, among other things.
The market will continue every Saturday through October.
It helped, in a weird way, that the slow economy had quieted the executive recruitment business that Roethlein and her husband run. She has instead been working full-time organizing the market — finding vendors, compiling pricing tips, and researching health department regulations.
Last fall, BJ Bollier, who owns Vita-Mart, ran a farmer’s market in September and early October until an early frost ended it. “We were very pleased with the results that we got,” he said.
Bollier has helped with the start of this farmer’s market, and examined some of the past mistakes that he says contributed to the demise of other fledgling Payson farmer’s markets.
He said the two main problems have been the cost of becoming a vendor and that farmers didn’t necessarily want to sell on a Saturday.
At this market, a stall will cost $5 plus 2 percent of sales, which organizers say will help pay to operate and promote the market.
“We are making absolutely no money on this whatsoever,” Roethlein said.
Co-ops are welcome, and small growers can collaborate and share a table. Also, volunteers, or in some cases paid workers, are needed to sell for farmers or bakers who can’t man their tables.
“A farmer’s market is supposed to be neighbors feeding each other,” Bollier said. “The quicker it was picked and the quicker you put it in your belly, the better it is for you.”
Although all products sold must hail from Arizona, Roethlein says she’s recruiting from Phoenix.
“The Phoenix market has gotten so big, they’re turning vendors away.”
Enough vendors have signed on to move forward with the July 4 grand opening, but Roethlein is still seeking food or flower growers small and large, as well as volunteers and entertainers. The bigger the market is, the more likely it will be successful, she said.
For more information, contact Roethlein at (928) 468-0961.