North Village farmers market finishes season, likely to return next spring

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 | 4:01 p.m. CST; updated 7:04 p.m. CST, Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Frank Welch and Rhonda Borgmeyer sell produce Sunday to Columbia resident Michael Mayer at the North Village farmers market. Sunday was the last day of the season for the market.

COLUMBIA — Rhonda Borgmeyer, owner of Pete's Produce, and her employee, Frank Welch, sat quietly in the Wabash Station parking lot behind a long table with fruits and vegetables placed neatly on top.

Sunday was scheduled to be the last day of this season's North Village Arts District Farmers and Artisans Market. Borgmeyer and Welch were the only vendors.

Lisa Bartlett, owner of Artlandish Gallery and a member of the Art District's board, said many vendors ran out of produce after a cold snap in early November.

Borgmeyer's greenhouse-grown produce survived the sudden temperature changes.

"We drove 40 miles from Bonnots Mill, and I knew there weren't enough vendors so we decided to stay," she said. "A few local residents told us a week ago that they would be here for some items. We didn't want to disappoint them."

Borgmeyer, who participates seven days a week at other local markets said she only missed the first two weeks of the North Village market, which opened in June, and has been around for the past five months.

Despite being the only vendor on Sunday, she said business was better than she expected because of the good weather.

Neeley Current, a resident of the North Village neighborhood, brought her 18-month-old son, Alex, with her to the market. Current described the availability of fresh produce as an asset for the neighborhood and the community, adding that it's important to support and make connections with local farmers and artisans.

"I think it's great to have fresh food just a couple of blocks from my house," Current said. "Thinking that the winter is coming, I certainly will miss the market. I really hope that they come back next year."

In order for the market to continue, Current said awareness must be raised.

"We got the vendors here, but we also need the people to buy," she said.

The market has attracted other residents. Michael Mayer, who said he has been a big supporter of locally grown food for more than 15 years, found out about the North Village market through signs on the streets.

Although disappointed by Sunday's low turnout, the 60-year-old Columbia resident said he'd go wherever the farmers market is.

"I'd go miles for good, fresh grown produce," Mayer said. "I wish we had farmers market seven days a week. It's important to help farmers maintain a living locally."

Borgmeyer also agreed that the North Village should improve its publicity stream. She said she wouldn't miss any opportunity to sell and promote local produce.

"They are simply better for your health because there isn't any additive or preservative," Borgmeyer said. "When people put it side by side with the ones they get from the grocery stores, they could really tell a big taste difference."

Barlett said she anticipates the farmers market to resume in March or April.

"We would like more vendors, artists and people to support the event," she said. "We've just begun. We just need to grow."

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