From out of the blue, the ten-year old effort to to construct a year-round structure for the Columbia Farmers Market could be getting a boost to the finish line:
Casey Corbin, executive director of Sustainable Farms and Communities, said he worked with the new chairwoman of the group’s steering committee, Judy Baker, to get the State Department of Agriculture to submit a request for $2.5 million of the federal stimulus package to build a pavilion on land leased from the city near the Activity & Recreation Center.
Yes, it would be stimulus package money, and is thus fraught with all kinds of issues and philosophical concerns. But the benefit to our community would be quickly realized and, more importantly, long-lasting.
The announcement came last night at a very well-attended gathering at Sycamore.
(Link to the unfortunately-headlined and rather dismissive Tribune article here)
Those interested in taking doing something to see the pavilion funding obtain state approval, here’s the action item, from Casey Corbin of Sustainable Farms and Communities:
(Full disclosure alert: I am in the process of joining the pavilion’s advisory committee, as well as the board of SF&C)
Thanks to the efforts of our Committee Chair, Judy Baker, the state department of agriculture, recognizing the real impact of this project on our region, recommended the funding of the pavilion from the stimulus funds. The decision is now with the Governor and Legislature.
We are fortunate that we are a shovel-ready project, which is what the state is looking for. This is a relatively small project at $2.5 million. But for this amount we will realize the following:
1. 40+ new small businesses as we expand to 100+ vendors.
2. An increase in business for all vendors as protection from the weather will increase average number of market goers.
3. Our education center will be partnered with folks like the university to offer programs for underserved populations in the areas of health, nutrition, food preparation and preservation, community gardens and much more.
4. This will also be a center for festivals, and events, which will draw new tourism and economic growth.
5. Our Saturday market is visited by more than 5,000 people in four hours on a peak summer day. The pavilion will allow even more of our community to enjoy safe, healthy and local foods.
6. It will employ a wide range of Missouri contractors, architects, engineers and more and be a bold statement of something positive happening despite the economy.
7. This will stimulate the local economy and encourage other areas of the state to continue to grow their farmers markets.
8. Plans include developing solar and renewable energy in a future stage.
I am confident that there is not a project out there that can do all of this for $2.5 million. This is a sensible and leveraged use of the funds, and with our 30 year old farmers market, it is a proven and sustainable way to create economic development.
How can you help?
We need everyone to forward this email to every single person you know in the state of Missouri now! Please! All of you should email or call Governor Nixon’s office and your local legislators and tell them to Fund the Columbia Farmers Market Pavilion for all of the benefits it will bring to the Columbia region! Email is preferred I am told.
1. Please call or email the governors office as soon as possible.
http://governor.mo.gov/contact/ or call (573) 751-3222
2. Email these folks as well:
US Senator McCaskill
Email Our Representatives: