The Payson Farmers Market will be a lot harder to miss this year with its new location in the parking lot in front of Legacy Furniture near the intersection of Highway 260 and Beeline Highway.
The expanded location will offer more room for more vendors and additional parking space. Also new this year, low-income women and children who qualify for a federal nutrition program can buy fresh produce with program coupons.
Last year, the market finished a successful first season despite an inconspicuous location at Community Presbyterian Church. Dedicated followers and some passers-by followed the hand-painted signs down Main Street, but organizers hope the new location at Payson’s busiest intersection will entice those traveling through town out of their cars and into the market.
“It’s totally about visibility,” said organizer Lorian Roethlein. She says the new location could increase traffic by 30 to 40 percent.
Last year’s market included fruits and vegetables, flowers, goat cheese and fudge, free-range beef, bread, baked goods, organic dog treats and live entertainment.
Most vendors are returning to this year’s market, which will run every Saturday starting Memorial Day weekend.
Organizers are recruiting new produce vendors to supplement the two returning ones.
Low-income women who qualify for Women Infant and Children (WIC) money will also benefit from the added produce vendors — they can now use WIC coupons to purchase market produce.
The WIC program provides federal grants to states so women, infants and children up to 5 years old at “nutritional risk” can afford healthy food.
Since 1992, WIC has offered a Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program to offer fresh and local fruit and vegetables while expanding the awareness of farmer’s markets, according to the program’s Web site.
All the goods at Payson’s farmers market hail from Arizona, many of them from Rim Country.
Supermarket vegetables often travel for days or weeks before appearing on local shelves. Farmer’s market vegetables and fruits are often picked the night before. Local food advocates say nutrients leach from fruits and vegetables as they travel.
Lorian said new data shows that eating locally grown produce is even more important than eating organic, although much of the produce at Payson’s farmers market is pesticide-free.
“The more fresh you can eat your food, the more nutrients it has,” said John Roethlein, Lorian’s husband.
Backyard growers are also encouraged to grow for the farmers market. Glen McCombs, owner of Plant Fair Nursery outside of Star Valley, will hold a free seminar on growing for the farmer’s market on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 9:30 a.m.
People can learn how to grow vegetables in whatever space they have available.
People without enough produce for an entire table can sell goods at the co-op table.
“If you’ve got a bushel of beans, come on by and when your bushel is gone, you can leave,” said Lorian.
John said he’s beginning a conversation with the school district so kids can grow and sell produce. Last year, two Payson Center for Success students earned enough money to travel to Disneyland. One of the students, R.J. Morris, said he’s planting more to sell this year.
The high school has a greenhouse, and a farmers market is a great opportunity for students to learn how to run a business, John said. “It’s unlimited potential.”