By Christine Bryant
Those in the Hilltop area looking for locally grown produce won’t have to venture far this summer.
A grassroots effort under way is bringing a farmers’ market to the Westgate neighborhood and will serve the surrounding area.
“The Hilltop is severely underserved in the area of fresh, local produce, and we are really hoping to remedy that with our market,” said Juliette Lonsert, one of organizers of the Westgate Farmers’ Market.
The small group of passionate Westgate neighborhood residents formed in September 2015 with the goal of making healthy foods more accessible to all residents, teaching residents the benefits of locally grown produce and enhancing the quality of life in the neighborhood through a bi-monthly community event during the summer and fall months.
The West Gate Masonic Lodge, 2925 W. Broad St., will host the the market, which will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. the first and third Saturdays in June through October.
“We intend to have a food truck schedule – the healthier variety – coordinate so that residents can enjoy lunch at the market, making it a fun community event,” Lonsert said.
The market also is working on accepting SNAP benefits, she said.
Because the market is entering its first season, organizers say they are in search of vendors and sponsors at this time.
“The area is excited about the idea of a farmers’ market, so we’re looking for all types of vendors, especially those who sell produce and other food items,” Westgate resident Ruth Thurgood said.
Organizers also are looking for sponsors to help with operating costs associated with the market, including its location fee and hiring an off-duty police officer.
“Any business or organization interested in sponsoring the market to assist with these costs can send us an email so that we can provide them with an information packet,” Lonsert said.
“We currently have three different sponsorship levels, and the information packet outlines what each level will buy for the market, in addition to how the sponsor’s logo will be featured in return for their contribution.”
For years, Thurgood said she has thought about what it would take to bring a farmers’ market to the Hilltop area. She said she wasn’t satisfied with the local grocery chains and their offerings, and hears much of the same from neighbors.
“There’s been a movement toward wanting to shop locally, especially in our neighborhood, and the thinking was that we could meet quite a few needs of the westside in one go,” she said.
The grassroots movement is about filling a gap that has existed for years, Thurgood said.
“By bringing a farmers’ market to the westside, we could bring our neighbors fresh and local foods and other vendors that aren’t really here on the westside,” she said.
As more logistics are hammered out, volunteers will be needed to help, as well as the community’s input in determining which logo will represent the market, Lonsert said. Through Jan. 24, residents can vote on the group’s Facebook page, facebook.com/westgatefarmersmarket.
“So far, we have received a lot of positive response to our posts on social media, which has been really encouraging,” Lonsert said. “We also have been fortunate enough to have the support of great area organizations such as the West Gate Masonic Lodge and the Westgate Neighbors Association, both of which have been a tremendous help to us in getting started.”
For more information, email email@example.com. Interested vendors may also find a link to an application on the Facebook page, or can email to receive a copy.