New manager eager to start Janesville Farmers Market season
IF YOU GO
What: Janesville Farmers Market
When: Opens Saturday and will run through October. Market hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: The market is held along two blocks in downtown Janesville beginning at the corner of Main and Milwaukee streets.
Details: Products, depending on the season, will include produce, meat, eggs, cheese, honey and baked goods.
To learn more: Those interested in vending can call Theresa Feiner, market manager, at (608) 289-9292. Questions can be emailed to the board at firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to Janesville Farmers Market, P.O. Box 143, Janesville, WI, 53547-0143.
JANESVILLE The new market manager of the Janesville Farmers Market describes herself as having a love of agriculture and a passion for local food production.
The Janesville Farmers Market opens for its seventh season Saturday.
Theresa Feiner, 22, graduates in May from UW-Madison with a degree in geography.
She said she realized during her studies that geography is all about the relationship that people have with the land.
The Mazomanie native grew up in an old farmhouse with chickens and other small animals and helped tend a large vegetable garden. Her grandparents were farmers, and she always was interested in agriculture.
Later, she became interested in land use and concerned about the disappearance of the small family farm. She also has worked at other farmers markets.
Feiner is an intern with the state department of agriculture in its “Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin” program with a goal of developing markets for Wisconsin products.
Managing a farmers market is a perfect fit for her interests, Feiner said. It is an alternative form of grocery shopping that is community based and gives people a chance to find out where their food comes from.
“I want to give people who live in the downtown area the opportunity to have fresh fruits and vegetables from the land surrounding their community,” Feiner said.
She’s excited that the market has an opportunity to match a grant so low-income people can buy fresh produce at the market.
“We want to include everyone, and we want to make it affordable for everyone,” Feiner said.
Buying locally is not just environmentally friendly, she said. It is also an investment in health. The less time food spends traveling, the more vitamins and minerals it retains.
Bryan Meyer, farmers market chairman, said the board was impressed with Feiner’s background and her job experiences. He said she has a real passion for agriculture.
Feiner is a Manpower employee managed by the farmers market board. After the board pays for Manpower services, Feiner will receive about $11 an hour, Meyer said.
She replaces Teri Huber. Last year, complaints surfaced that Huber unfairly barred potential vendors by adhering to a quota policy that did not exist. She was accused of favoritism and conflict of interest.
A potential vendor who had been turned away in the past started his own successful farmers market on Sundays just west of Janesville.
Amid the controversy, some of the board members, who are volunteers, resigned in frustration.
Today, the board has all nine of its seats filled and is looking forward to a strong year, putting last year’s ruckus behind them.
The board’s major policies have not changed: Any vendor who meets the qualifications is invited to sell, and the products must be grown or produced in Wisconsin. The only quota is applied to vendors who sell crafts.
The board has written new policies that better define the responsibilities of the manager and board members, Meyer said. The board also will create a better database to track such information as vendor numbers.
The market this year also is allowing three, non-profit booths.
Board members will work closely with Feiner as she gets familiar with her job.
The market has grown steadily over the years despite the down economy, Meyer said.
“We didn’t see a decline, and we’ve had a couple of challenging years with the weather and floods,” he said.
Feiner started her job last week. She is reviewing vendor applications and calling new and old vendors with stall assignments.
Feiner wants to feature live music at all farmers markets and wants to involve school-aged children and families in events.
Feiner will strive to make the market more welcoming. Last year, the only sign that greeted visitors was one saying “No dogs allowed.”
Feiner said she views her job as making sure that “everyone is having fun, the vendors are making a profit and the events are going smoothly.”