The idea to open the Victoria Farmers’ Market a second day each week began at the grassroots level.
During the summer, the farmers and vendors who make up the market brought the idea of selling on a weekday to Meredith Byrd, the market’s manager. On Wednesday, that idea finally came to fruition.
“I’ve been really pleased so far with the traffic flow coming through here,” said Byrd Wednesday morning, a half hour after the market opened.
A half dozen people wandered from stall to stall perusing the local produce, farm-fresh meat and handmade goods.
“This is fantastic,” said Anahi Zuydendorp. She is the mother of five children, with a sixth on the way, all of whom she homeschools. “Our Saturdays are so busy with sports and Scout stuff ... so Wednesdays are fantastic.”
This was the first time she’s even been able to visit the farmers market because of that conflict of schedules. After treating each of her kids to their own homemade cookie, she was excited to check out the homemade soaps and other goods the market had to offer.
Gary Henneke has been selling his grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chickens and eggs at the market since 2016.
“I figured it’s not gonna be as crowded as Saturday because people have to get used to it, but it’ll build. I’m sure,” said Henneke. “The market has grown, and this may be another step in the growing process.”
One customer, who occasionally comes on Saturdays, was particularly excited about the Wednesday market, he said. That customer lives 30 miles away, but goes to school in the city during the week, making the Wednesday market far more convenient for him.
Having the market two days a week will also be particularly beneficial for produce sellers, especially as the area enters peak fall produce season, said Michael Martignoni, the owner of Papa’s Nursery. Peak season for produce in the fall runs from late October to February.
His business is just a “backyard operation” that began as a hobby, he said. He sells excess produce from his garden, dried herbs, pickles and a wide variety of green house plants.
Having the extra market day means he’s able to harvest produce twice a week without having to store them for multiple days before bringing them to market, he said. When you’re only harvesting once a week, the produce can sometimes get a bit oversized, he said.
It’s hard to estimate the number of people that came to the market Wednesday, as they don’t have a way to track those numbers, said Byrd.
“But we’ve only been advertising this for a couple of weeks now, and so really with only a couple weeks advertising ... I feel like we reached a good number of customers,” she said.
The Dr. Pattie Dodson Public Health Center was also open for early voting Wednesday morning, and a number of customers came over after casting their ballots, said Byrd.
Byrd said she thinks the Wednesday market has the potential to be comparable to the weekend market in terms of customers as word of it spreads.
“I’m not necessarily expecting it to be slower than a Saturday, in general,” she said. “I think there’s a good chance that it could pick up steam and be pretty comparable.”