Local farmers-- from commercial growers to backyard hobbyists-- will soon have a new place to showcase their wares.
As the spring growing season approaches, Brazil City Plan Administrator Brandy Means is poised to establish a farmers market in downtown Brazil-- a place for area growers to sell their crops, promote their growing operation and cultivate an atmosphere of community.
"It's a place to get together, to see your neighbors and to meet the neighbors you never knew you had," Means said.
After a months-long process of gathering information and consulting organizers of other successful Indiana farmers markets, Means hopes to stage the first market in Brazil by the end of May.
"We're doing it to promote local producers and the natural products they produce," she said.
The market will feature locally-grown fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers and other produce-- though the list could expand if the venture is successful, Means said.
"It has a lot of potential," she said. "It can go in so many directions."
She also predicted the market would have a positive effect on other businesses in the downtown area, as growers and consumers from across the Wabash Valley would be exposed to all Brazil has to offer.
"People might come to the market, eat at one of the restaurants nearby, walk into one of the stores downtown," Means said. "It'll be a boost to our whole economy."
While many farmers markets allow their vendors to sell wholesale produce (some of which is grown hundreds of miles away from the market where it is eventually sold), Means plans to keep the Brazil market staunchly loyal to growers in Clay and contiguous counties.
"The farmer has to be involved (in the selling of the produce)," she said. Exceptions will be made for a grower's family members or close friends, but "they have to be directly related to the production of the product."
The market will operate every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon in the City Hall parking lot. Means said the space should accommodate "20 or so tables," allowing each vendor an 8'x10' area to set up shop.
Means said she is convinced the market can be run at little or no cost to the city. Though vendors will be asked for a "minimal" registration fee, all profits will flow directly into the pockets of participating farmers.
And while large-scale commercial growers will be welcome, Means stressed that backyard growers with small crops are encouraged to participate.
"That's the biggest market: People who don't grow hundreds of acres," she said.
For Means, the idea is ultimately about recognizing the contributions of area farmers to our community, our culture and-- most importantly-- our collective dinner table.
"We want to reconnect Clay County residents with the food that they eat," she said.
Farmers interested in participating in the market-- or anyone interested in volunteering-- can contact the city plan administrator by phone (446-0050) or via e-mail (email@example.com).