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Texas Farmers' Market in need of donations to continue

"We have had to spend a lot of extra money on supplies and extra staffing to keep the markets safe for customers," said executive director Nena Johnson.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Farmers' Market needs help after 50% of its vendors pulled out of the market due to the pandemic. 

The market's executive director, Nena Johnson, said at the start of the stay-home order in March, the number of customers visiting the nonprofit at its Lakeline location dropped from 2,500 visitors to 600 a day. 

"I think it is very special to come out here, see all the people from different walks of life and dogs when they are allowed," said customer Stuart Spaeth. "It's a really fun environment." 

Thanks to customers like Spaeth, visitation is getting back to normal, but Johnson said the market doesn't profit off of sales, only vendor fees, which have been cut in half due to the pandemic. 

"We have had to spend a lot of extra money on supplies and extra staffing to keep the markets safe for customers and vendors and staff," said Johnson. "While we're doing that, again, because of the pandemic, our vendor numbers have gone down and that's where our revenue comes from."

For the first time in the nonprofit's 10-year history, the Texas Farmers' Market is asking for your help to raise money for operating expenses. It's asking you to donate to its fundraiser called Lemonade Jug.

"Our goal was to hit $30,000 by the end of July," said Johnson. "We're still far away from that."

Johnson said they are at about $17,000, a little over halfway to their goal of $30,000. 

With some businesses ordered to close for a second time during this pandemic and no timeline on when closures will be over, they are afraid more vendors will pull out.

"I'm hoping that the public can really reach in their pockets and support us," said Johnson. "We're taking donations from any amount – $5, $50 or more if possible – to keep the market safe and going." 

The Texas Farmers' Market is not only an essential food access point providing fresh, sustainable food, but it's a place that's helping local small businesses stay afloat during this pandemic.

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