The Elon farmers market will begin again this year April 20 from 3 to 6 p.m., however, major changes have taken place as the town put together the Thursday market.
In previous years, Authentically Alamance Farmers Market Network — overseen by Healthy Alamance — ran the Elon farmers market. This year, Authentically Alamance did not receive a farmers market grant. In order for the market to continue, the responsibility of organization has been put onto the Town of Elon. Town Manger Rich Roedner said that the town has previously allocated $15,000 to Authentically Alamance. The first time the town of Elon allocated funds to the farmers market was 2021. Now, that money is being reallocated to hire a new staff member to be the farmers market manager.
Appalachian State University graduate Sarah Bass was hired and began her work as farmers market manager and downtown assistant last month.
In college, Bass studied sustainable development, agroecology and sustainable agriculture. She said her passion lies in sustainable agriculture, as she hopes to use her knowledge as she works in her hometown of Elon to build a good experience for the community.
“'I’ve gotten to speak to a few farmers already and I'm just trying to let them know that it's going to be different with my background in sustainable agriculture,” Bass said. “I took this position for the agriculture part of it. For the farmers.”
Bass said she has big plans for the farmers market, but reassures customers and vendors that they should not expect major changes right away. For now, Bass said she is focused on minor adjustments and a smooth-running event.
“I wanted to come in and do so much stuff. I kind of realized that that's not super realistic with the deadline that we have and how fast everything is coming up,” Bass said.
For the 2023 farmers market, Bass’ minor changes include expanding the customer base for the market.
Bass plans on having a more child-friendly environment that may include games and crafts. In addition, Bass works part-time at the Twin Lakes Retirement Community as a bartender and hopes to use her connections in order to get shuttles to bring Twin Lake Residents to and from the market.
In her month working for the Town of Elon, Bass has proven herself an asset to the downtown department, according to Downtown Development Director Jill Weston.
“I am so grateful because she has really taken the ball and run with it,” Weston said. “She understands the farm and she can talk the language, and that is really good.”
Bass said she plans to work with the town for a couple of years.
“I was like most high schoolers, and I wanted out as soon as possible,” Bass said. “But now I'm back and I'm getting to impact the local food system that I was raised on, so that's pretty awesome.”
Bass expressed her appreciation for the job opportunity and excitement for the farmers market.
“Nothing is changing for the worse,” Bass said. “It's going to be changing for the better but we want them to come back just as strong as they had the year before.”