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Farmers' Market Advisory Council Discusses Market Inclusion

A still from the Bloomington Community Farmers' Market.

(WFIU/WTIU News)

The Bloomington Farmers’ Market Advisory Council discussed ways to increase inclusion at the Community Farmers’ Market at its meeting Monday night.

The discussion focused on ways to make the market more inviting for all people, after the Board of Park Commissioners voted last week to retain control of the city’s Farmers’ Market.

“There’s been a perception that it was always an inclusive and welcoming place,” says Advisory Council Chair Bruce McAllister. “And we have learned that while that’s true for parts of the community, it has not been true for all parts of the community.”

Advisory Councilmembers discussed ideas that came up during last week's Broadening Inclusion Subcommittee’s meeting.

“We want to have events that celebrate various cultures at the Farmers’ Market,” McAllister says. “We want to reach out to parts of the community that have not typically come to the market and why they don’t come, and if there are things we can do to make the market more welcoming to those parts of the community.”

Some of those possible events include a World Fair celebration of different cultures, events where food from different cultures could be sold at the market, and a nonpartisan “listening booth” where people could share their thoughts. One councilmember also floated the idea of a partnering with a local school to create a program for students to grow and sell their own produce at the market.

“[We want to] go out to churches, businesses, communities, and talk to people about the market – what their perceptions of the market are, why they don’t come,” McAllister says.

Bloomington Parks Department Program Coordinator Marcia Veldman also says there is a possibility the Parks Board will delay voting on the proposed rules of behavior until its meeting in February, but declined to elaborate because she is not a member of the board.

Many activists say the proposed market rules limit their freedom of speech by confining protest activities to certain areas at the market.

The Bloomington Board of Park Commissioners will next meet Tuesday, Jan. 28 at 4 p.m.

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