Lisa Dargis: Bringing market day to FarmingtonIt turns out, a farmer’s market is a pretty popular idea in Farmington. Last week’s opening night drew an estimated 500 people, many of whom were standing in line before the gates opened.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
It turns out, a farmer’s market is a pretty popular idea in Farmington. Last week’s opening night drew an estimated 500 people, many of whom were standing in line before the gates opened.
Located on the old Lampert’s Lumber Yard site on Spruce Street in downtown Farmington, the farmer’s market will be a weekly event through the summer and on into September. All the planning and scheduling for the market was done by just one person — city of Farmington administrative assistant Lisa Dargis.
Dargis has been with the city for almost four years. Last year, the Farmington Economic Development Authority decided to try hosting a farmer’s market. The project fell into her lap. After last week’s success, Dargis is glad to have taken on the task.
To celebrate the opening night, the city of Farmington ordered 200 “chico bags” — reusable bags visitors could use to place their produce in at the market. Those bags were gone in the first 20 minutes.
Still reeling from the success, but planning for a few upcoming events, Dargis shared a few of her thoughts on the farmer’s market this week.
How is it that you were chosen as the person to get a farmer’s market going?
I’m not sure. At the time, I was working more in support of the economic development division, and the EDA was looking at possible events that might help generate traffic in the downtown, bring more residents downtown. That just sort of fell together.
Were there any real challenges to pulling this together?
Coming up with the policies was a lot of research. I looked at other city-run markets as well as some that weren’t, ended up calling a lot of other market coordinators to find out what they were doing, what kind of rules and policies they had in place. I was lucky enough to befriend the market coordinator for the city of Eagan, who’s a Farmington resident. She’s been a wealth of information, really helpful. The other challenge was just trying to figure out how to reach vendors and let them know that we were going to have a market and we were looking. I did give my contact information out to other coordinators in case they had waiting lists, if they had to turn away anybody they could give them my contact information and then just the coverage it got in the local newspapers. Pretty much any time the Independent or the Thisweek ran an article, I would get calls. That helped a lot.
Were you very busy with setting up for it on Thursday?
Little bit. I've been lucky enough to secure an intern through Dakota County Technical College so I have somebody to help me on site which is good. I think it probably took us a half hour, 45 minutes to set stuff up for our first day, then we spent the rest of the time just kind of helping other vendors, making sure everybody knew where to go and that everybody was able to get their space set up the way they wanted.
I heard there was actually a line of people waiting to get in.
There was. It was crazy. I think on the really high end of my hopes or expectations, that was kind of even above them. There was a group of people waiting to get in. Our booth was right at the front, and it took about a half an hour before it wasn’t a constant line of people just kind of waiting to get to the city information. I was pretty excited about that.
Did you hear many comments from residents?
Heard a lot of good feedback. One thing I was pleasantly surprised by was that I heard a lot of people saying, “Oh, I’m seeing so many people here that I haven’t seen in a while.” It really turned into a nice community-building event, kind of a social event, which I think is kind of a bonus. But yeah, I’ve received a couple of e-mails from folks that tell me they’re really excited for this week’s.
Once the market closed, what did you do?
Take down took a while, probably took until about 7:35, then went home and relaxed and thought about it. I guess I was on a natural high, just from the excitement and how well it went and just kind of going over my list of things I need to take care of before next week, what worked and what didn’t work. I didn’t get to sleep until really late that night.
Overall, what are your thoughts on the farmer’s market?
I think it went great. I think the results are going to be even better and more broad than what we had originally anticipated. We had been looking for a way to draw people downtown, but I think it is really going to be a good community-building event. And I think it’s also going to be a really good opportunity to expand and find out what the community would like to see. I’m going to add a few craft nights because I’m getting some requests for that. Just a few things that will continue to draw people together.