Bypassing the bumps in the road
Local farmers market makes revival
By Melanie Rossi
ALGOMA – The new Algoma Farmers Market is now open in the Algoma Elementary School parking lot every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — all owing to the hard work and perseverance of its local vendors.
The previous Algoma Farmers Market was recently shut down, and Jessica Gerdmann, a produce vendor who played an instrumental role in establishing the new market, said, “I’m glad I can get the word out there that there is another market.”
The WIC-certified market has now been open for four weeks, where between six and nine vendors have been selling their produce, homemade crafts, cookies, canned goods, woodworked pieces and more.
As a third-generation vendor at farmers markets, Gerdmann felt compelled to set up the new Algoma market to follow in her family’s footsteps.
After her grandmother, great-aunt and father participated in both the Algoma and Sturgeon Bay markets, Gerdmann herself became a vendor six years ago.
While she participated in the previous Algoma market for the past two years, only after completing all of the paperwork and preparing her garden for the upcoming season did Gerdmann hear that the old market wouldn’t take place.
“I was ordering all of my seeds, getting the garden prepped, and then we get, ‘there is no market,’” Gerdmann said. “I had posted on the Facebook Algoma group, and I had asked the community, ‘I need help here; do you guys need a market? Because if you guys need a market, I’m going to figure out how to get one going.’
“Everybody was amazing—they were like, ‘yes, we need a market!’ There are people who do not drive, and they would walk to the market. There is nothing like getting fresh produce at a market versus a store, and I heard a lot of that.”
With the goal of starting a new market, Gerdmann talked with two other vendors, and they noted their biggest priorities: finding a location and advertising for the new market.
While trying to find a location to host the market, Gerdmann said, “I hit some bumps along the road.”
With prices for renting city and park space being unaffordable, Gerdmann reached out to Algoma Elementary School.
In April of this year, Gerdmann met with Algoma Superintendent Jesse Brinkmann, who showed Gerdmann the elementary school’s parking lot and allowed them to use the space.
According to Gerdmann, the parking lot being so “hidden” has created challenges when trying to attract new visitors to the market.
“I’m just hoping that I can get the word out there further, letting everybody who doesn’t have Facebook know.”
To spread the word, Gerdmann has been setting up fliers around the city.
Although she is still hoping to make more people aware of the market, so far, she said, “it’s been phenomenal.”
“The word is getting out there, and I’m just really happy that we got a new one going — that was my main thing. . . The food from grocery stores isn’t as fresh as someone who puts their heart and soul into a garden and goes to farmers markets—the nutrients in fresh-picked stuff is better than getting it at the grocery store.”
Anybody interested in becoming a vendor at the Algoma Farmers Market can contact Jessica Gerdmann by emailing [email protected].