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Farmers market sets up shop indoors

Farmers market sets up shop indoors

November 17th, 2017 by Brittany Hilderbrand in Local News

Ashley Varner, left, discusses the setup for the future Indoor Capital City Farmers Market with Spottedwolves Spirit. The market will be located in the former Milo Walz and Blattner Furniture building at 704 Madison St. Spirit is part of a crew demolishing the building's interior.

Photo by Julie Smith /News Tribune.

Demolition in the Blattner building began this week, transforming an old furniture store into the indoor Capital City Farmers Market set to operate all year.

The 22,000-square-foot Blattner building at 704 Madison St. is owned by Ryan Freeman.

Freeman's vision formed earlier this year when he decided to branch outside of typical business opportunities to use the building to benefit the community. Freeman soon partnered with Ashley Varner, healthy schools healthy communities coordinator for Capital Region Medical Center, and Steve Smart, of the Capital City Farmers Market.

"This will allow for local vendors with an entrepreneurial spirit to grow their own business and also helps to collectively connect the food shed — covering surrounding areas like Taos, Fulton, Wardsville and Jefferson City — for the common cause of bettering our community," Varner said.

The 10,000-square-foot first level of building will be open to 20-24 local food vendors to sell their products all year.

As of Thursday, a demolition team had stripped out all of the display built-ins formerly used to stage furniture, removed old carpet and moved out old appliances. The progress opens space for vendors' display cubicles.

Varner said demolition will be complete by Monday or Tuesday.

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Renovation plans have been submitted to the Jefferson City Council, and Varner said she expects to hear back within the next three to four weeks.

Electronic Benefit Cardholders (EBT) will be able to purchase food at the new indoor market. Through the market's Double Up Bucks Program, if a customer using federal assistance benefits spends $10, the market will match those funds dollar for dollar, increasing their spending power in the market.

"Not only are we addressing food access in a census tract deemed as food desert, we will also hit literacy and transportation barriers," Varner said.

The indoor market will be a prime location for access to food, she explained, with a bus stop on Dunklin Street and a bike rack right outside the market. In addition, the market will feature "Wonderland Library," sponsored by Missouri Family and Community Trust, supplying children ages 0-18 with a free book every time they come to the market. A cafe on site will sell fresh, locally grown products, as well. Community Supported Agriculture boxes offering fresh produce and meat also could be available to customers.

Varner said the goal is to host an open house March 18, and vendors are being recruited.

In the span of three years, an HSHC grant will contribute $45,000, funded through the Missouri Foundation for Health.

For $50 a year, donors can become a "friend" of the market, which opens up the opportunity to purchase local food for a family in need on behalf of a senior or deceased family member. For those who want to sponsor a room or area, contact Varner at avarner@crmc.org or 573-632-5605.

By Dec. 1, updates on the indoor market will be available online at capitalcityfarmersmarket.org.