by ADAM GRUENEWALD
The members of St Johns United Church of Christ in Bongards are hoping to pack their church parking lot with plenty of vendors and items over the summer for a farmers market.
The Bongards Market will debut Wednesday, June 19, and continue through Wednesday, Sept. 25, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Members Theresa and Chris Meis of NYA, who first started attending the church in October with their kids Jameson, 2, and Morgan, 5, came up with the idea for the market as they enjoy attending farmers markets and the sustainable lifestyle.
“With the church’s location on the highway, we thought this was an excellent way to reach out to the community,” said Theresa. “We can do some community service and help them access locally and organically grown food.”
In addition to the idea, the couple came up with the logo, mission statement and helped with the planning.
Pastor Adam Westrich, who is just coming up to his one-year anniversary at the church, is eager for the market to see it develop in the same way the small church has grown, which numbers about 100 with average attendance around 45.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity for building community,” he said. “We want to build a bridge between the great community that’s already here of St John’s UCC and build bridges and meet neighbors. It’s a great opportunity for that.”
Westrich also highlighted the service aspects as well, as they will encourage extra food to be donated to those in need.
“People have been excited about it so far,” he said. “I’ve heard from some it’s great to have this young couple that have fresh ideas.”
With regulations in place regarding size and prices of locations, some of which came from Westrich’s previous home Cottage Grove UCC and also the University of Minnesota Extension Office, organizers are seeking more people to get involved.
“What we’re looking for is people interested in coming and obviously buying stuff,” he said. “But also vendors.”
Westrich added they are looking for as many vendors as they can fill the sizable parking lot, including about two-thirds produce and fresh foods and the remainder crafts and a few direct sales.
Westrich’s wife JaNae added they are also open to educational opportunities if vendors want to share gardening tips, canning ideas or even honey production, not to mention local musicians to play acoustically during the event.
“It’s open,” she said. “It can be an ecletic mix of the community. We’re going to try to gather local people in the area. Local vendors and local farmers.”
So far Theresa and others have modest goals about the market.
“I would hope we could have 10 vendors a week,” said Theresa. “Just enough to make everyone worth their while and help connect the community together.”
Church member Sarah Schneewind of NYA said she is excited about the idea and what it could mean for the community.
“It’s very good,” she said. “The location is great. Something new in the neighborhood and fresh.”
Vendors are encourage to check out the website, www.bongardsmarket.com and are eligible for a reduced rate if they apply ahead for all 15 markets.
For more information, call the church, located at 12984 County Road in Bongards, at 952-466-2080.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at firstname.lastname@example.org.