Monday, March 27, 2006
As the new coordinator of the Downtown Lawrence Farmers Market, Mercedes Taylor-Puckett hopes to assemble a team of dedicated volunteers.
She won't have to do much sweet talking.
"It is just the happening place if you're a social creature," says Taylor-Puckett, who joined the market in 1995 to sell her homegrown basil.
"More than 3,000 people come down," she adds. "One of the huge benefits of my job is I've been able to reconnect with anyone I've ever known in Lawrence."
On April 29, the market will make its debut at the 800 block of New Hampshire St. in the parking lot south of Pachamamas. This new Saturday location will allow 35 new vendors to join the market and allow existing vendors to expand their selection.
Tuesday and Thursday markets will still take place at 1020 Vermont St. from 4 to 6 p.m.
Taylor-Puckett is assembling a list of volunteers to help set up a picnic area, erect tents and assist with whatever challenges may arise.
- Farmers Market (8th and N.H.), 8th and New Hampshire streets, Lawrence
- All ages / Free
- Farmers Market (10th and Vermont), 1000 block of Vermont St., Lawrence
- All ages / Free
"As the market grows, we find that we really need the support of people in the community," Taylor-Puckett says. "You'll become like a member of the market, and they are some great people."
Perks for volunteers include getting first dibs on the early-bird offerings.
"A lot of big items sell out pretty quick," Taylor-Puckett says. "We're working on building up vendor product amounts, but when it's something like cherries, blueberries, raspberries - they can be gone in the first hour."
Volunteers will also have the satisfaction of supporting local agriculture, Taylor-Puckett says.
"A lot of people are concerned about that in our area," she says. "They're educated about the food system and how far most of our food travels and how nutrition is lost."
One new feature of the Saturday market will be the presence of local food pantries and soup kitchens. These charitable organizations will accept donations as well as excess produce.
Persons interested in volunteering at the Downtown Lawrence Farmers Market can contact Mercedes Taylor-Puckett at 785-331-4445 or email@example.com. More local volunteer opportunities at rhvc.org or at lawrence.com/volunteer/.
"That was always something that we wanted to do," Taylor-Puckett says. "From June to September, the cupboards get pretty bare because the kids aren't in school and the scout troops aren't gathering."
Volunteer shifts will take place from 6:30 to 9 a.m. and 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturdays. Volunteers should expect to work at least one shift per month.
"We'd love people to participate more often to provide that continuity," Taylor-Puckett says. "There'll probably be some sweet deals in there as vendors become aware of just what volunteers can offer."