A new, mid-week farmers market is struggling, but its manager hopes better weather will bring out vendors and customers.
Market Manager Jeff Bowen started working on a south-side market last year. He got a thumbs-up from the city and his church, where the market is located, Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church at 1550 S. Osborne Ave.
The rain and cold have plagued the market since it opened May 1.
“We have yet to have a nice Wednesday to test to see if we’re going to have vendors. I think we will,” said Bowen, who has been going to area weekend markets to recruit vendors.
Bowen said one reason for the market is to compensate for the 2017 loss of the south-side Pick ’n Save grocery store, which left what some call a “food desert.”
The new South Janesville Farmers Market, which Bowen plans to operate 3 to 7 p.m. every Wednesday through October, is about 1.3 miles west of the former Pick ’n Save site.
Because of recent struggles, Bowen said, he will cancel the market if no vendors show up by 3 p.m.
Bowen said he has gotten advice and encouragement from Emily Arthur, who manages the Janesville Farmers Market downtown on Saturdays. A poll of market-goers some years ago indicated an interest in a mid-week market, Bowen said.
Many people work Saturdays, so a mid-week market could find a niche, Bowen said. Delavan has one on Thursday and Whitewater on Tuesdays.
Janesville, Beloit and others have Saturday markets. The Rock County Farmers Market at Nature’s Touch Garden Center west of Janesville, which opens this weekend, is on Sundays.
The new market follows most rules of other farmers markets. One significant difference: It does not forbid pets. Bowen said many in the neighborhood walk their dogs in the evening.
The church will make its restrooms available.
Bowen notes there’s not much locally grown produce around now. He’s hoping producers of baked goods, meats, eggs and the like will fill the gap until produce comes in June.