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Farmers Market discussion dominates Commissioner meeting
Monday Jun 02, 2014 6:45pm
LaGrange County Office Building • LaGrange, IN

By: Tim Murray

LAGRANGE - The Farmers Market in downtown LaGrange is growing, and that’s a good thing.

But a proposal to apply for a United States Department of Agriculture grant brought to light some growing pains during Monday’s LaGrange County Commission meeting.

The biggest problem is the lack of a formal entity to operate the market according to County Ag Extension Educator Steve Engleking.

"The 600 pound gorilla in the room is there is no sponsoring entity. Most farmers markets around have got either a Chamber of Commerce that's the overseer of it. No one wants it. They asked. That's kind of the struggle that this has had," Engleking said.

Commission President Jac Price suggested to market organizer Nancy Blouck that a formal organization structure is needed before the county would act as the grant sponsor.

"We need to get to the point that we have a formal organization - 'we' being you and whoever in your group have a formal organization...and we've given you options of places to go. I think that's the first thing that has to happen," Price said.

Commissioners were unhappy that the market organizers were requiring a $30 fee for advertising from the vendors rather than taking contributions.

The grant included a budget of $32,400 over two years to rent a refrigerator and freezer, purchase 30 canopies, cover porta pot rental, and cover advertising.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Bob Shanahan pointed out that the area north of the library and west of the courthouse where the market is held is not properly zoned for a farmers market, and would need a special exception to comply with the county's planning ordinance.

Commissioners agreed to table the issue for two weeks while alternatives are sought for keeping the market going this season.

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