Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Time for Fear

I have my chance.  I can make a difference with my blogging pen, or at least my email pen.  Or keyboard.  Or whatever you want to call it.

And I don't know what to say.

No, let's rephrase that. I do know what I want to say, but I also have to be persuasive.  I have to make sense.  

Nor, dear reader, can I wait until my normal Sustainable Saturday post to blog about this.

In some past blogging posts, I've expressed my concerns about a local farmer's market in downtown Binghamton, New York. It has been declining in recent years. This year, it has reduced its days from two (Tuesdays and Fridays) to one (Fridays). I never would have known by looking at their website, which had last been updated, apparently, in 2012 (although when I went back yesterday to check the link, they did have something about the reduced hours.).

When I've posted about my concerns, I've gotten some very good suggestions from my blog readers, at least one of whom is a vendor at a farmer's market (not ours).  My commenters agree this market should be using social media to get the word out.

Do people even know the market exists, a couple of people asked me.  It made me stop and think. The only reason I know the market exists is because I work downtown, and that's the truth.

Their Facebook page?  It's almost silent. The market has asked for interaction.  Last night, I posed this as a comment:

"I am very concerned about the future of this market, especially with the cut in hours.  I've worked in downtown Binghamton the past 16 years. Binghamton needs this market so badly. I'm encouraged by the presence this year of VINES and other local producers.  What can a customer do to help boost the market?"

I will be awaiting their response with great interest (none yet).  Their page, incidentally, has 934 likes. 32 visits.  Not that much interaction. I know that Facebook makes it hard for  pages that don't have interaction to flourish.  I am not a Facebook expert.  I did share the page with my personal Facebook friends but only a few live in this area.

I've also shared on my blog's fan page (RambinwithAM), but I don't get much activity on that page, so I don't know how much good the share will be.  I know if I do something like this once, it's not going to help.  You can't post once and run.

But it was a mailing, not a post on Facebook, that set me off to writing this blog post.

Last night,  there was a a circular from our state assemblywoman, Donna Lupardo, in my mailbox.

"Farmers markets support our local farmers and our local economy - and they provide healthier food choices." it said. It listed the local markets, including the Binghamton market. 

Inside, Ms. Lupardo wrote:
"Dear Neighbor,
I thought you would find it helpful to have a list of farmers markets in the City of Binghamton and the Towns of Union and Vestal.  Buying locally grown, fresh produce and products made in the community really benefits everyone.  It's good for the local economy....." 
One end of the Binghamton, NY market
 Write to Donna, my heart said.

Then, the doubting whispers came.

Donna Lupardo? She won't listen.  (I don't even know her!)

I don't have time for this. I have to be part of the solution if I open my mouth (or keyboard).  I work full time. My spouse is close to gaining guardianship of his disabled younger brother. I'm a long distance caregiver to an elderly mother in law.  One day she will fall again or she'll be in harm's way from a storm or something else will happen.  

I have ideas, but who am I?   I am not a marketing person.  I am not a saleswoman.  I am "just" a person who has visited farmers markets, including downtown markets, in places including Fayetteville, AR, Charleston, SC, and Asheville, NC.  I see those markets thrive. 

Take Asheville.  Asheville's population is about 86,000. Binghamton's population is about 47,000. But Asheville has 17 farmers markets. They have at least two farmers markets downtown (called Tailgate markets in North Carolina), both thriving. And their parking situation is not that great, either. I know comparing Asheville to Binghamton is not fair.  They are two totally different cities.  But perhaps we can learn from these cities.

I needed to sleep on this. I needed my subconscious to suggest what to say to this assemblywoman.

I think I got my answer early this morning, as I was waking up.

This Friday there will be a festival downtown.  There will be another festival (existing festival, new venue) in late August.  The students will be returning to college in August.  More and more students are moving into downtown.  The City of Binghamton is actively encouraging students to move downtown.  Those students may be the market's future. 

For now, I need to start writing.  The time for fear is over.

Wish me luck!


  1. I DO wish you luck, Alana. We are all 'just people'. We should be accountable for what we believe in. I can't help you from so far away, but I would if I could. Everybody has prior commitments--well, maybe not me, but I'm the exception being old and doddery. Keep plugging for your local market. Of course, that official will listen to you--she's 'just a person' too. Visiting from NaBlo... I'm number 23.

    1. Thanks, Francene. I think the email to the assemblywoman is coming together. Tomorrow, after I visit the downtown festival, and the farmer's market, I'll be able to write it.

  2. Good luck Alana, you never no what can happen when we express from our heart, trust and do it

    1. Thank you, Suzie. I am going to write from the heart. I will trust in being able to - well, I don't know what, but it will be better than standing by and doing nothing.

  3. I am surprised to hear that your Farmers Market is doing poorly. Being downtown is a prime location. Our Farmers Market is very busy and pricey also. It's opened on Saturday and Sunday, plus some weekdays I think though not venues. I would think that changing the day to a Saturday would help since it's an off work day. Our market has little eateries in and close by which helps. Keep plugging away.

    1. In a lot of small United States cities, the downtowns have been victims of people spreading into suburbs. Our downtown is on its way back up because the local university has taken an interest in it but many of the students are gone during peak farmers market season. And, a lot of people living downtown, other than students, are poor. It's a combination that makes having a successful farmers market difficult. But, I'm convinced, we need a market downtown and we need to find a way to do it.

  4. I'm so glad you decided to take action! You are right, you do have a lot on your plate, but this little market is crying out for help! Good luck!

    1. Thank you. Still working on the email - but I will do it!

  5. It must be concerning, especially when they are not doing much to help themselves. It does seem that local markets suffer. We always support local businesses and normally use our local greengrocers rather than larger supermarkets.
    It's good that you have decided to take action though, keep going!

    1. I will, Sophie. Still working on the email. I will do it, if for no other reason that I've declared my intention to do this publicly.

  6. I shared your post in my Facebook group.....

    1. Thank you, Michael. I appreciate that.

  7. Glad to hear you're writing the letter! It's your assemblywoman's job to listen. You may need to send more than one, and try to get others to write as well (now THERE'S the challenge!) Good luck!

  8. Thank you, Kimberly.I suspect I will need to send more than one.


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