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:
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|
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!