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Ripon Farmers’ Market: Working together

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POSTED May 28, 2010 3:00 a.m.
Last year, the Ripon City Council explored the idea of developing a farmers’ market in our historical downtown sector. The plan was to collaborate with downtown businesses, farmers’ market vendors and the community to revitalize our downtown businesses. Unfortunately, due the multitude of regulations and to a late start, it was decided to postpone it until this year.

Since the original conception, members of the City Council have worked with downtown businesses, farmers’ market vendors and city staff to establish a market that would benefit all participants. Council Member Dean Uecker and I have worked with local businesses and farmers’ market vendors to optimize the talent and experiences of all those involved. At the same time, Council Member Garry Krebbs has been working with downtown merchants to address their concerns regarding the logistics of the market itself.

On Thursday May 20, the Ripon Local Farmers’ Market started its first season downtown and will run through September. In spite of a number of concerns and challenges, the market turned out to be a rousing success. For the first night, we were able to fill the initial 16 spaces with vendors selling everything from kettle corn to vegetables and real estate. The turnout was overwhelming. Several vendors had to return to their farms to restock because they ran out of produce. Others were sold out only two hours after the market opened.

The Ripon Police Department provided its child ID services, which was a great hit with parents and children. My wife Karon and I enjoyed dinner at one of the local restaurants that was packed. In talking to others at the market, it appeared all the other restaurants near the market were full most of the evening.

In addition to the vendors’ merchandise, the market provided a great opportunity to visit with friends. I probably ran into 25 to 30 friends that I have not seen in a long time. Overall, I believe everyone who turned out had a great time. I am looking forward to the rest of the season with a variety of vendors and activities that are scheduled to make this an enjoyable experience for those who attend.

This market would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of the Farmers’ Market Committee, downtown business owners and city staff. I want to personally recognize the members of the Farmers’ Market Committee: Helen Caetano, David Collins, Tara Fisher-Carnahan, Gale Langum, John Mangelos, Danielle Pierce, Council Member Dean Uecker, Police Chief Dick Bull, Public Works Director Ted Johnston, Planning Director Ken Zuidervaart and the city’s farmers’ market resident expert Mitzi Johnston.

Also, I want to thank the downtown business owners and the Ripon City Council for their support in this effort to revitalize our historical downtown area. Frequently, government is criticized for overregulating businesses and therefore limiting their ability to prosper. Rarely is government ever the solution to the problem. However, it should provide support to the community to improve our quality of life whenever opportunities arise. Obviously, this includes our local businesses.

The Council is committed to assisting our business community in surviving these troubling economic times. This farmers’ market can be an example of how businesses, residents and the city can work cooperatively to accomplish a goal, which is beneficial to all concerned. I look forward to seeing all of you there next Thursday to support our local farmers and businesses.
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