Sawmills market working past rough patch

Apr. 16, 2014 @ 08:50 AM

The Sawmills Farmers Market is looking for a new market manager.

Town Administrator Seth Eckard announced that next year, the farmers market will say goodbye to its two usual volunteer managers, Olivia Wilson, who is expecting a baby, and Shelda Altman, who is retiring, and will hire someone to the newly paid position of manager. While plans are being made to hire for the 2015 farmers market, Wilson and Altman would like to bring on a new manager to train this year.

Some responsibilities for the market manager position include “enforces market rules,” “communicates weekly with the board members,” “raises consumer and community consciousness about Sawmills Farmers Market,” “educates consumers about locally grown produce” and “arrives at market 1 – 1.5 hours before opening to coordinate market set-up and stays at market until all vendors have left,” according to the job description.

“We do not know if we can find anyone who will fit that description, but that is our goal,” Wilson said. “It is a very stressful job at times.”

A new responsibility involves keeping track of permits and paperwork as required by the state.

Recently, a law was passed that requires vendors to submit a certificate of registration from the North Carolina Department of Revenue to exempt them from sales tax on produce. Seth Nagy, director of the Caldwell County Extension Service, said the exemption does not apply to such things as crafts, modified foods and soaps.

Although the tax is not new, the new law requires a market manager to must keep track of which vendors are required to charge sales tax, which caused some uproar among growers. 

The Sawmills Farmers Market has also struggled with funding this year. Wilson said it lost a state grant that promotes healthy lifestyles in communities. To fill the gap, the Town of Sawmills is considering adding $1,000 for the market in its proposed budget for fiscal 2014-15, which takes effect July 1.

This year’s farmers market will open on May 6 and run every Tuesday into October. A formal opening ceremony will take place on May 27 and will feature a live band, free food and other activities.