Lakota, North Dakota is a town located between the Devils Lake and Grand Forks areas. It is a small town in of just about 780 people and it is full of community spirit. That community spirit went a long way to inspire the Lakota Farmers Market according to Amie Vasichek and Elaine Brooks. This is the first Farmers Market the City Lakota has hosted. It’s organized and managed by the city’s Economic Development Committee. I met with both Amie and Elaine to find out more about the Lakota Farmers Market.
“We had a lot of people requesting it.” says Amie Vasichek, City Auditor and member of the city’s Economic Development Committee. “We started out the first couple weeks with just two vendors and it has kind of taken off.” The Farmers Market certainly has grown. It is now home to nineteen vendors, though they are not all in attendance every week. There has so far, been an average of ten vendors out a week.
Elaine Brooks, member of the Economic Development Committee and owner of Elaine’s House of Dreams, attributes the growth of the Farmers market to “quality products, word of mouth and people wanting to eat healthier.”
“The first vendors, the first couple of weeks, sold out in fifteen minutes.” Amie says, “The word spread. She added, “People just enjoy being outside. There was talk about having it at the park but there was fear we would lose people. It is good to have the Highway 2 visibility here.”
“The main challenge was just getting it started.” says Elaine.
Amie describes the journey to hosting the Farmers Market as a huge learning experience. “We went online to see what other farmers markets and what they did. The committee sent out lists to current and potential vendors welcoming them to the (Lakota) Farmers Market. Then we picked a time when we thought we’d get the most people.”
“We decided against the weekend because so many people are out at the lake on the weekends and the Devil’s Lake and Grand Forks Farmers Markets are on the weekend.” says Elaine.
Getting a food vendor out every week has been one challenge the farmers market has faced and has not proved a successful endeavor. “Some people would like it to be longer but it might not go over that well,” says Amie. “Ringing the bell at 5:30 is a neat thing I think. Everyone has that rush in them.”
“We have had a lot of request to extend past September 9th. Past September we have pumpkins, gourds and (more) sweetcorn. So we might even extend it throughout the year.”
The Lakota Economic Development Committee has been really active with lots of projects currently benefiting the community. They have established a Storefront Improvement Program to help the façade of businesses and a Residential Painting Program. If you paint your entire house you receive one hundred dollars in Lakota Bucks. Amie says, “Our big project right now is getting a child care facility in town. We are pretty close to making that happen. We have a building we have obtained and will need to get the right staff. I don’t know what is more Economic Development than funding a daycare center. There is a real need for it in town.”
The committee is working on bringing the Head Start Program to the child care facility in Lakota. Elaine adds, “We are hoping to qualify for the Head Start program through the Mayville State University.”
The Lakota Farmers Market started on July 15th and runs through September 9th from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. For more information on the Lakota Farmers Market check out the City Lakota Government page on Facebook and the City of Lakota website, www.lakota-nd.com.
Josh and I have been both a patron and a vendor at the Lakota Farmers Market and loved both experiences. It’s summer and the outdoors is so welcoming, a farmers’ market is just the place to be. Don’t worry about it being too hot though, they have thought of that! The vendors are all out at just the right time! The area they are selling from is completely shaded. That means you are also in the shade! There is something so welcoming about rows of tables all beautifully decorated full of carrots, beets, peas and more. There is so much more!
We go to the farmers market with our son in tow. I decided to make Pepper Jack Cheese scones and Josh, oatmeal raisin cookies which we sell for a few dollars a piece.
We also sell art at the market. Josh has made these cool Troll Magnets which he sells for $10 each. They are hand sculpted out of Super Sculpey, baked and then given a light wash with Acrylic Paints. You can learn more about Josh, his Trolls and his work here.
Also available are paintings and cards themed around nature and hunting created by my in-laws, artist Caroline and Boyd Hagen. More of their artwork can be seen at http://spoonbillenterprises.wordpress.com. (Please note Boyd and Caroline’s artwork will soon be moving to a new and improved website. Look for updates here in the near future.)
Live in the area and thinking of being a vendor? I highly recommend it. The atmosphere on the other side of the table is friendly with vendors supporting each other, sharing tips and having a good time. That said if you bring items for sale, I recommend trying to see where there is an area that isn’t being filled. It may be more profitable that way and may help ensure the market is not flooded with the same produce.
We do have a garden of our own but it is yet to come into maturity. So far we have only been able to harvest herbs and a few young potatoes. Until then it’s the farmers market for us.
A special Thank you to Amie Vasichek and Elaine Brooks and the City of Lakota for allowing me to interview them for this post. The City of Lakota’s Economic Committee members are Elaine Brooks, Wes Brooks, Jim Burtness, Susan Bergquist, Michelle Grawe, Chuck Shirley and Amie Vasichek.