We caught up with Janet to
What does a normal day at the Market look like for you.
I get to the Market 6.30-7am to help set things up as the farmers arrive. I make sure that the food booth has all the necessary ingredients from the farmers. After that, I help each vendor as required with unloading before the 9am Market opening. I try to ensure all of the vendors (especially the new ones) are in a good position to sell. It’s usually crazy-busy at the start! I deal with price lists, answer questions, and exchange vouchers, EBT and SNAP credit for wooden coins. We run programs for all ages — from newborns right through to seniors — to help everyone access fresh produce. The end of the Market is also action-packed, checking out vendors and redeeming credits, but it’s always an exciting time of the week.
How did you end up at the Market?
I have 35 years of food service experience so have always been interested in related initiatives. As soon as I heard about the exciting development of the Market movement, I was enthusiastic to be part of it. Once I was back home in Whitesburg, I got involved within about 6 months.
What has been your proudest moment at the Market?
Travelling with Valerie to speak about the Market. People around the country are looking at Whitesburg and what’s going on here. The Summer Feeding Program was one of the very first in the nation, for example. Additionally, it’s amazing to see the physical effects of the Market on people’s health week-by- week over the course of the Market season.
What are your thoughts on the first Market week?
The first Saturday Market and Feedtime dinner were both fantastic events, and the response far greater than we had anticipated. It was a very exciting way to start the year.
What is the best thing about the Market?
The social aspect of seeing everyone in person each Saturday morning. The Market community is like an extended family. In the winter, we’re forced to speak on the phone to catch up! Everyone knows that farmers markets are sociable places but the extent of this always surprises me. Senior citizens come and talk to each other, while the Food Booth is also creating more of a social space. We’re also excited about the impact that walking initiatives, such as our partnership with the Tanglewood trail, will have.
How is the Market focusing on children?
We’re running several initiatives for children — from the food booth to Kids’ Day. It’s important that kids know about making healthy and delicious food choices. Going out in the garden and actually growing things is very important. Giving children the choice of free fruit and vegetables on Kids’ Day is also impactful.
How have you seen the Market change?
The Market has definitely grown in terms of vendors, sales, and the diversity of products on offer. We encourage vendors to bring one new product to the Market that no-one else is selling if they can. One vendor did this with brussels sprouts and sold them all, while Dock Frazier has done well with his eggs.
What makes this Farmers Market different from others?
We put a very strong emphasis on local produce, supporting vendors from Letcher and neighbouring counties who will generate and spend money here. The Market also has a really strong local community spirit to it. Rather than competition, there’s a big feeling of respect and cooperation among the vendors.
Favorite fruit or vegetable?
Impossible to pick between fresh peas and greasy beans.
Do you cook?
I love to cook, especially chicken with fresh new potatoes and peas.
Two Boston Terriers: Sophie (5) and Gracie (2).
Do you grow?
Yes! I have a small garden, planted with lettuce, carrots, onions, broccoli, red and white cabbages, squash, zucchini, sugar snap peas, and cherry tomatoes.
Most stressful Market moment?
The nervous period before every Market (especially the first of the year!) hoping that all goes to plan.
Ultimate ambition for the Market?
A permanent structure, with electricity and running water for each stall, and a permanent Summer Feeding Program booth.