Janesville Farmers Market: New manager cooking up fresh ideas
If you go
What: Janesville Farmers Market
When: 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, May 5 through Oct. 27
Where: North Main Street, downtown Janesville.
JANESVILLE The new manager of the Janesville Farmers Market wants to reach a wider audience.
"Buying food directly from farmers can already be a very affordable way to improve nutrition," said Stephanie Agnew, who in addition to being manager of the market is a natural food chef and educator.
"We will be making this wholesome food available to even more people," she said.
The market's new Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, is a debit card for those who meet state income guidelines. Assistance amounts vary depending on need.
People with SNAP or QUEST cards—plastic cards that replace food stamp coupons—will be able to take them to the market manager booth to get tokens that will be accepted at some of the market booths, Agnew said.
"I think having this program at the Janesville Farmers Market will increase attendance and improve access to healthy food for people who really need it," she said.
Agnew said the machine to swipe SNAP cards won't be available when the market opens Saturday, May 5, but she's confident the program will be up and running by June.
Leashed pets, first allowed at the market in 2011, will be permitted again this year, said Matt Schreier, vice chairman of the market's board of directors.
"Overall, it was a positive change. We really didn't have a public outcry or incident of animals getting out of control. We just ask people to be responsible pet owners with an obligation to create a safe, pleasurable environment," he said.
Agnew was chosen as the market's new manager from a pool of 16 applicants and four finalists.
"With her passion, knowledge of food education and public relations background, she will be able to interact with the public and represent the market well," Schreier said.
Agnew, 37, Janesville, said the market manager position builds upon her work experience, which includes involvement on the management team in the deli at Basics Cooperative, a community-owned natural food store.
She was an environmental educator/cook for the Minnesota Parks and Recreation Board, and she worked on a 500-acre biodynamic farm where people with and without disabilities live and work together. She learned about recruiting volunteers, writing grants and managing a nonprofit while at the Minnesota Literacy Council.
The 2011 market drew five to 10 more vendors than in 2010 and peaked at 50. There is room for 75, Schreier said.
"We'd like to see those slots filled every week," Schreier said.