Edison Farmers Market faces uncertain fate

October 7, 2018

EDISON — The Edison Farmers Market is set to come to an end Sunday unless someone steps forward to manage the market or a funding source is found.

After the market was not awarded a federal grant that would have supplied it with three years of funding, co-managers Angela Sullivan and Blake Vanfield said they can no longer sustain the market.

Sullivan and Vanfield, both of Edison, started the market in late 2016 and have devoted up to a combined 35 hours a week during the market season to make it happen.

With careers and young children, they said they can’t keep working at the market without pay.

“We gave all we could and then some,” Sullivan said.

A new market director would need to dedicate a minimum of 10 to 15 hours a week to the market during its season, Vanfield said. Duties would include coordinating vendors, marketing, bookkeeping, recruiting new vendors, organizing kids’ activities and more.

If someone steps up to take over the market, Vanfield said the heavy lifting is mostly done. The market has nonprofit status and a business license, as well as an established marketing base and about 30 rotating vendors.

Edison vendors said the market is unique in its tight-knit community.

“I feel like all the vendors are just happy to be there and not stressed out if it’s raining or a slow day like at the bigger markets,” said Tori Wyman of Cedar Plank Seafoods.

During the market, she said her kids run around town visiting friends or walk to get lunch.

“There aren’t many places where you can let a 7 and 9-year-old loose for five hours and not think twice about where they are,” Wyman said.

As one of the only Sunday farmers markets in the area, Wyman said the Edison Farmers Market provides an additional outlet for vendors who already sell at Saturday markets.

Most of the market’s vendors are based within 10 miles, Vanfield said.

When vendors describe to customers where their farms are located, they can often point and say, “Just a mile and a half that way,” said Lacey Zope, who sells handmade soap at the market.

Because of the market’s small size, sheep farmer Jessica Gigot said it has allowed her to shape new products based directly on customer feedback.

Aside from offering organic or sustainable food and products, the market hosts live music each week.

“It feels like a neighborhood square, just like hanging out with friends every week,” Vanfield said.

Linda Versage, who sells produce at the market and lives in Bow, said if the market were to discontinue she would miss it both as a vendor and as a community member.

“We would be disappointed to not have this market to vend at,” she said. “It is really fun and would be a marketing loss for our farm. We would also miss it as members of the community as sometimes we go to the market to buy things or enjoy the atmosphere on days when we are not vending.”

Wyman said she’s thankful to those who made the market happen for the past two years.

“I’m very grateful that they tried to give our little farming community a little something extra as I’m sure most residents of our area are,” she said. “Whatever happens, I’ve met a lot of great people that I wouldn’t have without the Edison market and it has been a positive experience for both my children and myself.”

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