After more than six months of planning, the St. Michaels Farmers Market is becoming its own self-governing organization and is pleased to introduce its first Board of Directors.
Earlier this year, the future of the local, producer-only Market was in question since its D.C.-based, parent organization had announced they would no longer provide the necessary administrative, marketing or financial support after the 2017 season. In a quandary, the Market’s volunteer leadership hosted a meeting in February to inform the community of the dilemma and ask for help. More than 100 people turned out to offer suggestions and show their support for the Market. In the end, a dozen people came together to form an “Action Team” that would tackle the challenge of how to ensure the Market’s future. After six months of discussions, planning and exploring a variety of options, it became clear that the time had come for the Market to become its own entity, run by a local board of directors.
“It was wonderful to see these 12 people, most of whom didn’t know each other at all, come together as a team to find a way to support the Market,” says Randy Royer, action-team-member-turned Market Board President. “We agreed on what we loved most, then looked into many options for filling the critical administrative role – forming our own entity and finding a new local umbrella organization. In the end, the option just made the most sense since our mission is locally-focused.”
The new St. Michaels Farmers Market Board reflects the interests in the community and has an eye toward future programs and partnerships that were identified by the Action Team discussions. Board Members are: Randy Royer, co-owner of Blue Heron Coffee Roasters in St. Michaels; Rosemary Fasolo, owner of Pixel Print
& Post in St. Michaels; Joseph Coale who has a private law practice in St. Michaels; Bob Benson of Bozman who was in the financial services industry; Jena Paice, current Market farmer, owner and grower at Spirit Grower; and Niamh Shortt, Delmarva Program Manager for Future Harvest.
Collectively, their diverse experience, knowledge and skills will ensure that the St. Michaels Farmers Market continues to be a producer-only market that serves as a community gathering place for residents and visitors, while also providing economic opportunities for farmers and food producers, offering local food education and giving everyone access to healthy, fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs and other products.
“We are absolutely committed to keeping the many vibrant, rich aspects of the Market that many of us have enjoyed and supported for years,” says Royer. “Our Action Team explorations really helped us understand more about our community’s food-related needs and gave us lots of new ideas for increasing everyone’s access to our farmers, like hopefully accepting SNAP benefits next year. Those conversations also opened the doors for new partnership and program possibilities. I think I can safely say that the new Board is really excited to be part of the Market’s evolution. We are committed to opening in April 2018, offering locally sourced products and a unique community gathering place each Saturday.”