Live Oak —
The Live Oak Community Redevelopment Agency directed CRA Director Tim Williams to work with farmers market expert Sharon Yeago in establishing a plan to bring a farmers market to downtown Live Oak.
“I’m very excited about the idea of a new farmers market in Live Oak,” Yeago said. “I think the intention to invigorate downtown is a good one. I think the farmers market will certainly help you with that.”
Yeago’s approach to establishing a successful farmers market is for the CRA board to express what they would like the farmers market to be, then to hold community meetings and see what the people want.
“The other thing this farmers market would be able to do is, on a long-term basis, it will help you build some jobs and entrepreneurs through the farmers market,” Yeago said. “A farmers market is an incubator of small businesses and whether you make the best jelly or jam in town, regardless of what it might be, the farmers market will be a way to help you get started on a very low income.”
Yeago, of High Springs, said the farmers market would be a place where all people could come and take advantage of shopping locally. She explained by vendors accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, and the farmers market nutrition program, which provides coupons to consumers, those living on a low income could benefit from the farmers market. Yeago also said she would encourage vendors to accept debit and credit cards to better serve the people.
“I made a call and the Department of Agriculture has agreed to allow this market to accept the coupons, the WIC and the senior coupons. All we have to do is talk to the state about when we’re going to open it up,” she said. “With those kinds of added values, everyone can come to the market and shop,” she said.
“I guess what’s most important about the farmers market is, it’s equal. It provides access to healthy foods. It give the vendors cash income, and it really brings people together,” she stated.
Yeago told the board the farmers market may be the missing ingredient that brings people to downtown Live Oak.
“Maybe you only see that vibrancy at Christmas time during the big event. Because of that, we know that you can draw people to downtown. It’s just a matter of being able to do it,” Yeago said.
Consistency is key to making the farmers market a success and to establish long-term results in downtown. Yeago also said incubation is key in making the farmers market thrive.
“Starbucks started in a farmers market,” Yeago told the audience. “There’s a little bakery in Gainesville that started in a farmers market. It’s a great way to get (a business) started.”
If the board decides to move forward with bringing the farmers market to Live Oak, Yeago recommended hosting the event on Sunday afternoons to accommodate vendors or during a weekday, such as Wednesday or Thursday.
Live Oak Development Manager George Curtis said they are currently reviewing a couple of locations as the potential site for the farmers market.
Yeago will analyze the local area and will bring back a recommendation to the board on how to move forward with establishing a farmers market. The plan will be delivered back by the end of February. The concept planning process will cost up to $2,000 to get started.
According to Yeago’s biography, she is a founding board member of Farmers Market Coalition, continuously serving on the executive committee as president and treasurer since its inception in 2006.
The board will then take action and decide if the CRA should move forward with the project.