Sharon Yeago, will use her expertise and experience in setting up the Branford Farmers’ Market. She was hired February 14, at the Branford Town Council meeting to work at setting up the Farmers’ Market shooting for an opening on the first of April.

Yeago will be working with the governmental programs that supply the WIC program with coupons for folks to use at the market. It’s a program for the young and some elderly folks are eligible too. These programs come under the Department of Agriculture. Yeago will set up rules for the farmers’ market as to what items besides vegetables and fruits will be available. According to Councilman Charlie Daniel, those items can include honey, and jellies, and things of this nature, but the seller needs to be certified to sell such home made products.

Attorney Kevin Daly at first thought the farmers’ market was going to become a nonprofit organization, but it will become a program of the city. Yeago talked about liability. The town attorney felt comfortable with the dialogue and limited responsibilities associated with the venture.

Yeago has five years experience with the farmers’ market at High Springs. Daniel offered to be a volunteer manager, however there was some concern with the sunshine law, and ramifications. The council didn’t want any appearances of impropriety. Yeago was asked to consider managing it herself or finding someone other than Daniel. He will not be the designated person responsible for the market because of a possible conflict of interest.

The council determined no matter what they had to do, the market was needed. They agreed to go forward with the issue. A meeting will be scheduled to determine what kind of vendors the market will allow.

Yeago said, “My experience has been that once you get people used to buying fresh produce on a regular basis you get people to buy more often. In the five years that I have been doing this work at High Springs, we never took anything away from the businesses already in High Springs. If craft items were brought in they were brought in on special occasions only. One year a citrus grower sold more citrus when another citrus grower came to the High Springs market. A lot of the selling has to do with presentation, and competition helps us do a better job.”

At a previous meeting the council agreed to provide $2500 to start up the farmers’ market, but after further investigation found $1500 would probably cover the start up cost.

The council will provide Yeago a $500 start up fee and then as things progress, and as needed, up to $1,000 can be used for services she provides in getting the farmers’ market off and running according to Joe Cannon, president Branford town council. Cannon said, “She will eventually run the market on a percentage basis. Nothing is set in stone, but we are talking about being open on Monday.”

Two farmers’ markets within easy driving distance of Branford are High Springs which is open on Thursday, and Alachua which is open on Saturday.

An agreement for services was signed between Yeago and the Branford Town Council.

The agreement reads, The town supports the development and establishment of a conveniently located farmers’ market to serve its citizens and visitors on a regular basis and the town has access to certain property that is a suitable location for a farmers’ market and Sharon Yeago is experienced in the development, operation and management of the farmers’ market.

The agreement was signed by Yeago, and Council President Joe Pete Cannon, and Town Clerk, Donna Hardin.

A meeting will be held on Monday, March 6, from 6-8 p.m. at Hatch Park Community Center to discuss details with those interested in using the farmers’ market, and to answer questions.

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