So I promised I’d be back to give updates on our efforts at Green Market, the Central City Co-op project at Discovery Green. We had our first market day on Thursday the 17th. I am just recovered enough to sit down and tell you about it.
The best news is that we had a fabulous opening day. The public spoke with their dollars and everyone had a much better day than anticipated, which was a huge lift to us all. Overall, I have to say how impressed I am with the energy and good will everyone brought to the table in getting this going on market day. Think about the unknowns and the risks: A brand new venue with no track record, no stable residential customer base and totally untested procedures for doing basic things like parking vendor vehicles and running credit cards.
I give absolutely everyone an “A” for effort and energy. From the park staff who hustled to help get things rolling for setup to the vendors who graciously rolled with every possible thing going not quite the way we had planned to the random members of the public who chased hats and tablecloths in 20 mile an hour wind gusts, we had an exciting and wondrous day. Children played, veggies got purchased, people talked until their voices gave out.
There are definitely things that we need to do better, but frankly I don’t think we could have PLANNED anything any better than we did. Loading in and out was traumatic- we all have a lot to learn about how to do this safely and efficiently. Parking was a challenge- we had an event at Toyota Center last Thursday, and it will only become more demanding as the Astros have home games on Thursdays this season. But we are learning, and will learn more each week.
The biggest challenge for Central City going forward will be extending our volunteer base to cover the new market. One of the reasons we can bring organic produce to the market at such reasonable prices overall is that we are a mostly volunteer organization. We have no full-time employees, and only a handful of staff who draw some part-time wages for certain jobs. It has been a real strain on all of our regular, devoted staff and volunteers to get the new market up and running.
We are in desperate need of new volunteers to work the Green Market. We need people to help with load in at 2:00 in the afternoon to help vendors be ready for market opening at 4:00. We need people to help watch things during market time from 4:00 to 7:30. We need people to help re-load and get people out of the market safely at the end of the day. Imagine a small farm run by a family, with only one person available during the day to run market stalls and sell product. Who watches the stall while you go park a vehicle? Who helps you unload? What happens at re-load time at 7:30 pm when you are tired? The answer at Green Market needs to be volunteers. Right now we don’t have enough.
Of course if you are reading this and interested in giving some time to the Market, you can drop me a note here, or go to http://www.centralcityco-op.org and click on the “Get Involved” tab to learn more and let us know you are interested. There are also volunteer opportunities at our Wednesday market in Montrose, which would help by giving other volunteers the chance to rotate to Thursday slots downtown at Green Market. And of course it’s all about growing a community of people interested in organic produce, sustainable agriculture and local farming, so we hope you’d think that was way cool in and of itself.
We are busy tweaking things and trying to make this week better than last. We hope that the public will continue to be supportive of our efforts. I think we are on to something wonderful and potentially really successful at Green Market. If you haven’t visited yet, please come. Let me know what you think.