by Dave Warner

Local Fresh Thursdays is gearing up for its second season and the committee that runs the all-volunteer event has plenty of ideas about how to expand and grow the weekly event.

It started last year during the pandemic as a seasonal, hyper-local, open-air food market and a program of the Little Falls Youth and Family Center (YMCA) Community Co-Op of Little Falls.

The idea began as a way to cultivate relationships around fresh, local produce and other goods that contribute to the overall health of Little Falls and build on the momentum of LF Volunteer Corps, which works to bring individuals and organizations together to develop opportunities to benefit the community.

Jordyan Mueller, one of the organizers stated, “I think that despite all of the things that were working against us last year, we established what will be a beneficial community event that also centers around bringing in local makers, bakers, and growers  and helping people get access to fresh healthy food.”

Something to be said for that

She said that despite the pandemic, they were really successful with the 15-week long event. “There’s something to be said for that.”

Mueller said that they were really restricted in what they could do last year because of COVID-19. “The restrictions have lifted quite a bit for farmers markets.”

The long-term vision of the group is to make this a family-friendly event that brings people together, so they want to do demonstrations and have activities for young people and live music.

“This season, I think we’re going to be able to experiment with some of that in ways that we couldn’t because of the restrictions last year,” she stated.

Make and take

They are reaching out to local artists who might like to have some ‘make and take’ type events, such as painting. Music is also going to be expanded. “We’re working with other organizations to think about how we can provide dinner-type meals as well. We’re still in the planning stages, but we’re doing community outreach to bring in more partners,” stated Mueller.

She said that it takes a while for a farmer’s market to really get established. “We have a core group of vendors that are really dedicated and we want to make sure that they are doing well. We also want to curate a little more what is available so that there are really unique items”

The main focus of the group this year is to make sure that people see the items they typically would expect to see at a normal farmer’s market. “Fresh produce and fresh goods that are healthy and locally sourced are key,” Mueller said.

Looking for more vendors

They are still looking for meat, cheese, and niche produce producers. “Maybe things that a traditional producer might not grow. Who doesn’t like cheese?”

Mueller said that for those people who are looking to start their own venture with something that they are producing, Local Fresh Thursdays presents the perfect opportunity to get some exposure at a low cost.

“They can get their name out there and show people what they have and build that customer base. Getting involved with Local Fresh is a great way to market your wares and let people know you are here.”

“I think what COVID taught all of us is that there are tons and tons of people producing out of their homes or their back yards that are not traditional businesses, but really independent makers. We want to build a network and space for those people to come and market themselves,” Mueller stated.

For more information

Local Fresh Thursdays will be located at Burke Park/Western Park Thursdays, June 17th – September 30th, from 4 pm – 7 pm.

If you’d like to participate in the event, email LocalFreshThursdays@gmail.com or fill out the vendor application below. In addition, you can stop into the Community Co-Op on Albany Street, or the Youth and Family Center on Jackson Street and pick up a printed version of the form.

For additional information, visit localfreshthursdays.com or call 315-823-1740 for details.

Download the 2021 Local Fresh Vendor Application