A weeknight market at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium and a mobile app that will guide customers to produce are among the additions coming to the farmers market scene in Wichita this year.
The new Kansas Grown farmers market at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium will open Wednesday, and the Old Town farmers market locations will also open this week – at Normandie Center on Wednesday and in Old Town on Saturday.
The mobile app is being developed for the Saturday-morning Kansas Grown farmers market at 21st and Ridge Road and may be available by late May, said Kay Neff, publicity manager for the market. The app will help customers find the vendors who are selling what they want, she said.
Kansas Grown already is open for the season, as is the Kansas Grown market at GreenAcres on Tuesdays.
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Rounding out Wichita’s farmers markets, a weekday-morning market, at Lincoln Heights Village shopping center in College Hill, will open for its second year on May 8 at the corner of Douglas and Oliver.
The number of farmers markets in the United States has more than tripled in the past 15 years. There are now more than 7,175 across the country, according to the Agriculture Department.
Buying local means products are picked at peak ripeness, providing the top freshness, flavor and nutrients. The foods are transported fewer miles and are coming directly from the people who grow them. And shopping at them supports the local economy and strengthens the local food system.
The market at Lawrence-Dumont will combine Wichita’s two Wednesday-evening markets into one: the Delano market, which used to be at the Downtown Senior Center at 200 S. Walnut, and the Kansas Grown farmers market, which was at 21st and Ridge Road. The location was the idea of the Wichita Wingnuts, the baseball team that plays at the stadium.
“We thought about some way we could add to the fan experience around here for games,” Jeremy Mock of the Wingnuts said. “ ... It’s kind of a cool thing to have out in the parking lot when people come in. ... It’s one of our ways to partner with the community and give back.”
The market will run from 5 to 7 p.m., and when the Wingnuts play at home on Wednesdays, their games start at 7:05 p.m.
Jim Martinson, manager of the Delano market, said that organizers had been looking for a new location when the Wingnuts floated the idea.
“The old location at the senior center wasn’t very visible,” he said. “It was in the middle of the neighborhood, and people had a hard time finding it, and we just didn’t get much traffic. We’re hoping this new location will expose us to a lot more traffic.”
The Wednesday night Kansas Grown market was in a bit of the same situation. The Delano market had five or six vendors last year, and the Kansas Grown market had between four and six, until both markets’ numbers dwindled because of the exceptionally hot summer and drought.
“We had vendors trying to do both markets,” Neff, of the Kansas Grown market, said. “ ... We’ve had several vendors interested in combining.”
Martinson said he hoped that people who used to go to the Wednesday market at 21st and Ridge Road would frequent the Delano market. Neff said she hoped it would succeed.
“Those midweek markets are hard to start,” Neff said. “They take a lot of commitment from customers and vendors.”
Kansas Grown’s website – www.kansasgrownfarmersmarket.com – will be revamped soon, Neff said, and people will be able to see such things as vendor profiles and be able to link, for example, to vendors’ Facebook pages. With that will come the mobile app for the Saturday morning market.
People can “take their smart phone and can plug in like ‘I want tomatoes,’ and it’ll pop up which vendors there will have tomatoes.
“It’s pretty cutting-edge for farmers markets,” Neff said, laughing.
Contributing: Washington Post