City of Eau Claire debates on creating an all-year farmer’s market

Boards torn between how to fill empty space

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Photo by Bri Hageman

In the 1940s, Eau Claire opened its first farmer’s market operated out of a pickup truck along Graham Avenue.

It evolved and moved to the London Square Mall parking lot, where there were 10-20 vendors. As decades passed the farmer’s market relocated to the pavilion in Phoenix Park by the Chippewa River.

According to the Eau Claire Downtown Farmer’s market website there are currently around 70 vendors at the market, providing a variety of products.

Growing and distributing local foods is a historical part of Eau Claire, as it is in many other cities, and a farmer’s market is a way for an area to get connected where people can come together and enjoy the city through local food.

Eau Claire is exploring idea’s on how to fill the green space in the downtown area, with this there is talk of a year round farmer’s market.

“Having a full year round farmer’s market would be a fantastic idea because it would support local businesses and bring a larger sense of community to the Eau Claire area,” freshman Rebekah Damitz said.

According to ABC 27 News, the city just accepted a grant from the US Department of Agriculture for $25,000. This money will go towards renovated ideas on what to do in the city.

Marshfield Clinic, Group Health and Mayo Clinic Health system would help support the bill for this project, as the UW-Extension offered to donate services.

“Personally I would support having a year round farmer’s market. Not only does it support local farmers and businesses, but it supports eating healthier and sustainability,” freshman Gabe Stilson said.

The market manager for downtown Eau Claire, Diedra Barrickman, said there are a bunch of ideas being thrown around with what to do with this set of space. There is talk of an educational center, green house, restaurants, and many other things as the board is trying to make a decision.

“It is all about being environmentally friendly. With it being year round it gives the local farmers a chance to sell their crop all year and brings the community together all year,” Stilson said.

If the year-round farmer’s market is settled upon, it could be owned either by any private partner around the community or different groups. The city is focusing on what the community needs.

“It could be a triangle of an area that could bring healthy local types of feelings to it all,” Barrickman said.

There is currently no word on when this decision will be made.