With the growing season winding down, the Brownwood Area Farmers Market had only two vendors as the noon hour approached Saturday – Debra Mathis of Early with breads and Novella Newman of May with peppers and meats.
“We were thinking about staying open one more day – on Wednesday – but that’s usually a slower day anyway,” market manager Todd Price said. “I think this will be our last day.”
But don’t read any defeatism into his remarks, because he counts this as a having been a good year.
“It’s been good for the past two years, ever since we moved here,” Price said, referring to the location under the Bill Monroe Overpass (Austin Avenue) at the corner of Avenues A and B. “The shade makes a big difference.”
“I don’t think it’s ever been really hot under here,” Newman added. “It’s always cool.”
Both agreed the location is much more comfortable for vendors and customers than it was at the two previous sites – downtown at Depot and Brown, and before that along Main Street behind Bank of America.
“When Cary Perrin talked to us about moving here, she said we would have to share it with Keep Brownwood Beautiful, which has the recycling center here once a month,” Price said. “That brings at least 100 people by, and I thought that would help us.” Perrin is program coordinator for Keep Brownwood Beautiful.
Recently, the market has expanded its offerings from just fresh foods to items like baked goods, plants and arts and crafts. All of those items are not necessarily available on any given Wednesday or Saturday morning, however, depending on the mix of vendors who show up. But those changes, in addition to the more comfortable location, have helped boost participation.
“We could always use more vendors,” Price said. Then after a pause, he added, “And more customers too.”
The most popular items this year have been tomatoes, cabbage, watermelon and okra, Price said.
Newman, who has had a booth at the farmers market for the past three years, said Freda Day and Perrin have both been instrumental in the market’s success, and Price concurred.
Price said he plans to open the market for the 2010 season sometime in May or June, depending on local conditions.