You never know what might grow out of a community garden. Two years ago, Elisa Bedsworth started the 63rd Street Community Garden in Raytown, Missouri. And next Thursday, May 29, she’ll take her first volunteer shift as the market manager for the debut of the Raytown Farmers Market (6210 Raytown Road).
“I really saw a need in the area for a farmers market. A lot of people I spoke to didn’t want to have to drive to the City Market and wanted this here,” Bedsworth says.
She approached the Raytown Main Street Association with the idea of a local market and the non-profit agreed to partner on the project. Next Thursday, the market will open with eight vendors, including The Dancing Pig — which makes organic baked goods with bacon, like bacon chocolate chip cookies. In addition to baked goods, there will be produce and aprons for sale. Bedsworth is hoping to add meat to the market later this season.
“This is a producer-grower market. We don’t allow resell. Everything has to be grown with 120 miles of Raytown. And we do farm inspections to ensure that,” Bedsworth says.
In preparing to launch the market, she spent six months at a local food pantry asking the clients what they looked for when they shopped for produce and what they might want to see at a farmers’ market. As a result of those surveys, the market will accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and focus on education.
“If people don’t understand why they should eat healthy or try to get more produce into their family’s diets, they’re not going to do it,” Bedsworth says. “When you educate them, you empower them. And when you empower them, you help them make the right choices for their family.”
Each week, there will be a children’s and adult education area. Bedsworth has lined up cooking demonstrations (local chef and grocer Craig Howard is scheduled to make an appearance) and sustainability workshops. Next Thursday, Terrie Shepherd from the Butterfly Fields Nursery will be on hand, as will Bridging The Gap’s Mark Morales, who will be teaching people to build rain barrels.
Over the course of the summer (May 31st, July 26th, and October 25th) they’ll also be holding a collection of Arts & Crafts fairs. For those who want to learn to can, the market is holding a series of classes in conjunction with the University of Missouri Extension program. The class on June 30 will focus on salsa, the July 14th session covers jams and jellies and August 25 is about pickling fruits and vegetables. Each class is $20 and they will be held at the Raytown Christian Church (6108 Blue Ridge Boulevard). You can register by calling 816-482-5850 or e-mailing Angela Lanigan (firstname.lastname@example.org).
“We’re here for the long haul,” Bedsworth says. “”I think it’s going to bring a sense of community to Raytown.”
The Raytown Farmers’ Market is open Thursdays from 2 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.