The answer was in the question.
When city officials asked Main Street Farmers Market attendees, in a survey last month, what would make the market better, they said: more farmers.
Attendees of the market on Feb. 15 were asked to drop stickers next to multiple-choice answers to three questions about the market. A fourth board allowed attendees to leave comments, which were overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the soon-to-be-ousted pony rides at the weekend market.
Nearly 370 attendees placed stickers in response to that first question, and 178 of them asked for more farmers.
The second most popular response, with 81 stickers, was more entertainment.
The second question asked, “Which educational activity would most motivate you to attend this market?” to which 146 of the 372 respondents said cooking demos and workshops. There was a near four-way tie for second, with food or agricultural art projects, urban homesteading, gardening demos, and nutrition workshops, scoring between 45 and 52 stickers.
“Staff will keep these preferences in mind when evaluating educational pilot program applications,” city officials said, “and likely select activities proportionate to the preferences indicated selecting more cooking demonstrations activities than any other activity.”
The last question asked: “What would entice you to purchase more farm products at this market (vegetables, fruit, nuts, flowers, cheese, meats, and eggs)?”
“Greater variety” pulled in nearly half of the 320 stickers under this question.
Noting that the term “variety” is broad, city officials said they’ll need to evaluate the existing mix of products at the market and perhaps get some more feedback.
“It could be that customers feel there are gaps in the overall product offerings,” they said. “For example, there are no farmers at the Main Street market selling grains or rice. The feedback could also be highlighting a desire for more innovation and variety within the existing product mix, for example, different varieties of oranges that are not currently offered by the existing farmers.”
A request for more vendors accepting credit cards came in second, with 82 votes.
Aside from the overflow of comments about the pony rides, open comments about the music came in a distant second. About three-quarters of the 26 music comments asked that City Hall keep the music while just under a quarter asked them to lose the loud music.
There were also a slew of comments asking that the musicians be paid.
Several commenters suggested a reduction in prepared food. Some begged the market to bring back their favorite vendors:
“Bring back the bread man!” said one. “That was no. 1 reason to come to the market for years. I don’t come so much any more. That personal support built up over many years was really important.”
One person called for a hot dog vendor.
The market got one other specific complaint.
“Better grammar on the signs,” it said. “‘We sell what we grow,’ NOT ‘We grow what we sell.”