Leadership Jackson County team promotes Friday’s kickoff of Brownstown Farmers Market

A Leadership Jackson County project team is helping make the Brownstown Farmers Market even bigger and better than last year.

The community growth/awareness team of Julie Kloote, Luke Nolting, Chad VanLiew, Grant VonDielingen and Melissa Wilson learned how the farmers market was revamped last year and decided to do what they could to get more people involved this year.

That includes organizing the kickoff for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday at Heritage Park, 121 E. Walnut St., Brownstown.

It will feature local produce, flowers and baked goods from local vendors, food trucks and entertainment. The Leadership Jackson County health project team of Jason Alberring, Elizabeth Bowlen, Brittany Drawbaugh and Jessica Hidalgo also will be there to promote Brownstown’s walking trail, which starts a block from Heritage Park.

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The farmers market will continue at the same time and place Fridays through September. It’s free for vendors, and they must live in Jackson County or within a 60-mile radius of Brownstown.

Before selling products at the market, vendors must register with the Purdue Extension Jackson County office, 111 S. Main St., Suite 10, Brownstown, and sign an agreement.

“The goal of the farmers market committee is to create an atmosphere Friday afternoon on your lunch hour to eat healthy and to exercise and to have camaraderie of people in the area with events and stuff going on during the summer months,” Nolting said.

The group made fliers to pass around the community and share with local businesses, and they also contacted some local vendors to ensure they will have products to sell at the market.

Wilson said there are several benefits of farmers markets.

For one, they focus more on the farm-to-table movement.

“They like the advantage of cutting out the middleman, so cutting out those grocery stores and being able to buy directly from the farmer,” she said.

VanLiew said most of the products are picked that day or the day before.

“It’s kind of hard to believe, but there are a lot of people in Jackson County that don’t really know where their produce is grown,” he said. “They know it’s grown by farmers, but they wouldn’t necessarily know that some of it is local here, so it kind of connects them and lets them see where stuff is grown. You can talk with (farmers) about it and see the process.”

Farmers markets also help facilitate more social ties with the rural settings to the urban communities, and they help generate traffic for nearby businesses.

Farmers also benefit by using less transportation, handling, refrigeration and storage time.

“When they can just bring their goods and sell it out immediately, all of those costs are reduced for those farmers,” Wilson said. “Spending money at markets helps keeps all of those funds localized.”

The project team also hopes to promote Heritage Park and let people know the pavilion and green space are free to use. All they have to do is call Brownstown Town Hall and reserve it in advance.

VonDielingen said other events at Heritage Park throughout the year include the Brownstown Summer Concert Series, a Halloween parade, an Easter egg hunt, 5Ks and other concerts, including the Columbus City Band.

“The goal is to just create awareness of an area in Brownstown that is a green area, it is open to the public, kid-friendly and that everyone can use,” Nolting said.

Also, with the Jackson County Judicial Center being constructed nearby and the Jackson County Courthouse across the street, the project team expects more people to be in town, and the farmers market can be one of their stops.

“There’s going to be a lot more foot traffic through there, so we were just trying to help drive the farmers market there in Brownstown,” VanLiew said.

Leadership Jackson County Director Terrye Davidson said the project team took strategic alliance to a higher level by bringing together farmers, people in the community and those visiting or working at the courthouse, local businesses and the new judicial center.

“I think that awareness and just what we learned if you sit at a picnic table and eat, you talk with somebody and there are new connections,” she said. “So for me, that’s the epitome of putting people in the right place to make things happen, which is what a strategic alliance is.”

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What: Brownstown Farmers Market

When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays through September

Where: Heritage Park, 121 E. Walnut St., Brownstown

Who: All vendors must live in Jackson County or within a 60-mile radius of Brownstown

Cost: Free for vendors (vendor setup starts at 8 a.m., and teardown must be done by 1:30 p.m.)

Register: Before selling products at the market, vendors must register with the Purdue Extension Jackson County office, 111 S. Main St., Suite 10, Brownstown, and sign an agreement

Information: Richard Beckort at 812-358-6101 or [email protected]

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Products that can be sold at the Brownstown Farmers Market

Produce: No contaminated, rotting or infirmed goods may be offered for sale.

Meat/eggs: Must meet inspection guidelines.

Honey: Must be produced from bees owned by the seller.

Baked goods/foods: All home-based vendors must be labeled as “This product is home produced and processed, and the production area has not been inspected by the Indiana State Department of Health.”

Nursery crops: Must be grown locally.

Homemade products/crafts: Must be completely homemade. No commercially prepared products may be sold.

Temporary food booths: Must be permitted by the Jackson County Health Department before setting up at the farmers market.

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Donations made to the Brownstown Farmers Market are tax-deductible. Checks should be made payable to Brownstown/Ewing Main Street, P.O. Box 75, Brownstown, IN 47220.

Donations will be used to further the mission of the Brownstown Farmers Market for generations to come.