GFMA Member Market Feature | Monroe Farmers Market

As part of our feature series on GFMA member markets, we wanted to introduce you to the Monroe Farmers Market. In this feature, market manager Gail Zorn gives us insight into why markets are so important and how GFMA is working to support them. Browse through the Q&A below to learn more from Gail.

1. How long have you been a market manager? What's your connection to AG? This is my first year as the market manager for the Monroe Farmers Market, however I have been a vendor at the market since its debut in 2012.  I grow seasonal cut flowers, bring them to market each Saturday and assemble custom bouquets for the market shoppers.

2. What makes your market unique? I believe that there are several things that make our market unique. We are located in downtown Monroe next to the historic courthouse.  The downtown shopping area has undergone a dramatic transformation and revitalization over the last 5-7 years.  New businesses are setting up shop, existing businesses are enjoying facelifts,the downtown area has an old time main street feel and appeal.  The market tents are provided to the vendors and setup by the Monroe Police Department each Saturday and we enjoy an enviable amount of participation and support from the city, downtown businesses, local community organizations and religious groups.

3. Give us an idea of what a typical market day looks like. What vendors are there and what type of products can shoppers find? We are a producer only market and so that means our offerings are required to be made or manufactured locally. Our farmers will bring seasonal crops to the market. Starting in the spring, that means they'll have greens, carrots, beets, onions, cabbage, strawberries then transitioning to potatoes, beans,squash, tomatoes, peppers, blueberries, summer greens, peas, peaches, apples and sweet potatoes in the summer. Not all of our farmers are produce farmers. We have folks that specialize in cut flowers, hanging baskets, nursery plants and potted as well as cut herbs.  Our artisans produce a variety of goods from pottery to turned wood items, jewelry, gourd art, picnic tables, baby and pet items. We have a very creative group of dedicated artisans.  Our market day begins at 8:30am and ends at 12:30pm, a shopper can come to market and select what appeals to them,continue to stroll through the downtown businesses to shop or grab lunch or take a short drive down to the hugely popular antique district.  Monroe has something for everyone!

4. What's the one idea you try to convey to people who've never shopped at a farmer's market? The value of the product.  Value comes in many forms. It is not just the price that determines a value.  Value is inherent in product freshness, health benefits and the return of dollars to the local economy.

5. Why do you think local markets are important? Local markets have the unique power to build a community.  We have lost the sense of place and identity that used to surround the shopping experience in our small towns and cities. Markets supply a social outlet; that gathering spot where neighbors meet neighbors and get to make or reinforce community connections.  Markets can be an economic engine for the local community. What better place to start or maintain an entrepreneurial enterprise than in a low risk market setting and you can count on every dollar spent at market magnified as it is reinvested by the recipient in local purchases?

6. How is GFMA assisting you and your market in connecting people to food? I find a great current value and a HUGE potential value in GFMA and its ability to support and serve local markets. I am enjoying networking with other market managers. It's wonderful to hear success stories about processes that work to improve the market and just as important to hear about what does not work.  The consolidated buying power is a great feature of GFMA that all market managers should be taking advantage of; every dollar is important in promoting your market and its offerings.  GFMA is positioned to be able to support market managers with greater connections and to partner with organizations that share the mission and vision of community, opportunity and equity.

7. Is there anything I haven't asked that you'd like to mention? Yes, come visit us and make a day of getting to know Monroe!

Learn more about the Monroe Farmers Market, here.
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