Downtown Lawrence Farmers’ Market to kick off season Saturday

This Journal-World file photo from Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011 shows produce for sale at the Downtown Lawrence Farmers' Market.

Saturday morning will mark the start of the 42nd year of Lawrence’s Downtown Farmers’ Market, where customers can expect a complete vendor lineup and an emphasis on a high-energy atmosphere.

While the first Saturday of the season won’t have any special features because of weather concerns, market manager Olivia Taylor-Puckett said this year’s seven-month market run would soon feature specialized monthly events.

“We want people to get their feet underneath them for the season,” she said of the inaugural day. “We’ve worked really hard to have more of a fun vibe at market. We’re instituting monthly events; we’ve put a big call out for musicians, so we should have a really fun, really energetic atmosphere.”

In addition to monthly events — the first of which is on April 28, Taylor-Puckett said — the market is also looking to increase its use of Mid-America sampling cart, which should make for more sampling possibilities than in years past.

Taylor-Puckett said the market was also launching a new data collection campaign and would be conducting customer counts each week. In May, she said, the market plans to start distributing surveys for how it can be even better.

This year’s market will return 76 vendors, Taylor-Puckett said, marking an almost-full lineup. There are two new vendors, including one from the Kansas City area as part of a New Roots for Refugees program. The other is a Lawrence home bakery called the Black Squirrel Bake Shop, which specializes in vegan baked goods.

“We’ll have a Burma woman starting to participate, and she’ll be selling produce and vegetables,” she said. “[The desserts are] gorgeous, beautiful and fantastic. And we don’t have any other vegan vendors, so that will be a new aspect.”

Finally, Taylor-Puckett said, the market will continue to use its token program this year. The first option for tokens allows customers to swipe a debit or credit card for $5 tokens rather than use an ATM. The second option allows customers who use food stamps or SNAP benefits to double the value of whatever they take off of their SNAP card in market tokens up to $25.

The Saturday market runs from April 14 through Aug. 25 from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and Sept. 1 through Nov. 17 from 8 a.m. to noon at 824 New Hampshire St. The Tuesday market launches May 8 and runs through Oct. 23rd from 4 p.m.to 6 p.m. at 725 Vermont St. in the parking garage by the Lawrence Public Library.