Save the local farmers market

Katie Maxwell, Staff Reporter

Have you ever visited a farmers market and experienced all of the hustle and bustle of the shoppers, felt the fresh produce, and heard the live music? If you have, you may agree with me in saying that a farmers market is a world unto itself. Riverside has been fortunate enough to have one for the past two years, but its market faces an uncertain future.
The uncertainty of the farmers market is primarily due to the fact that sales were down fifty percent from last year. That makes it difficult on the farmers who supply the market because they need to make a profit. Some are considering on not returning in the future. Despite the decrease in sales, there are also two farms, M&D Farms and Brockway Farms, that have been feuding about the origin of M&D’s produce and that has led to threats of not returning from both sides. Lastly, the Economic Development Commission, which runs the market, was less involved than the previous year. That hurt the energy of the market.
Having the market has been a wonderful thing for Riverside. Residents have come downtown more and it is a way to help support local businesses. Not to mention, shoppers can buy locally grown food at relatively cheap prices instead of buying from stores like Jewel and Target that often are supplied with food from outside Illinois and even the country.
If the farmers market were to shut down, Riverside would be faced with a great loss. The market is still young and it has room to grow, but closing down would deprive it of that opportunity.
Instead, there are some solutions that can be made. First, there should be a better, more focused group to oversee the operation. This could be a group of volunteers from the community or a committee from the Commission. Then, that group should focus on working out the dispute between the two farmers so that there is less tension at next summer’s market. Finally, the group should do more marketing in the area in order to increase profits.
The farmers market isn’t the only group who should make an effort to keep it around. Community members also need to support it more. So if you live in this community, please make an effort to show your support of the market. Whether that is by vocalizing your support to the Commission or by shopping there next summer, help be the one to ensure the lasting existence of Riverside’s Farmers Market.