Market gets new director

Jenna Morrison has taken on the role of director for Allen County Farmer's Market. Morrison is a recent graduate of Iola High School, finishing as valedictorian of her class.



May 15, 2024 - 3:46 PM

Jenna Morrison is the new director of the Allen County Farmer’s Market. Photo by Sarah Haney / Iola Register

Jenna Morrison knows what it means to hit the ground running. It was only last weekend that she graduated at the top of her class at Iola High School. Wasting no time, she has taken on the role as director of the Allen County Farmer’s Market.

“I was looking for something that is out of my comfort zone,” Morrison said when alerted of the opportunity through Debbie Bearden, a former substitute teacher and a member of Allen County’s GROW council.

Morrison began training for the position in April.

Having previously worked at the Iola Public Library, Morrison said she loves meeting and helping people. “I figured this would be a way to meet more people, more often,” she said of the director role. Being outside is also a major perk. “I love being outside,” she noted. “Being able to combine these two things is awesome.”

LEADERSHIP roles are nothing new to Morrison. She was a valedictorian of her class, in student council, president of National Honor Society and will be a student ambassador at Allen Community College. “Taking on leadership roles is something I see for my future,” she said.

Morrison is also hoping to hone her marketing skills through her responsibility of promoting the market. “I’m very excited to work on that skill and gain experience,” she said. Those attending the market this summer will grow accustomed to seeing Morrison as she plans on being at every single one of them.

One of Morrison’s duties will include manning the SNAP table.

SNAP — the supplemental nutrition assistance program — is accepted at the market. “We actually participate in the Double Up Food Bucks program,” noted Morrison. This program doubles the amount of money available to SNAP participants for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as the Kansas Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program that allows low-income seniors to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs and honey.

“They are getting a matched dollar amount to spend on quality, healthy food,” she added. “It’s an amazing opportunity for those people who really need to take advantage of it.”

Shopping locally is important, says Morrison. “With the support of the community, local farmers and producers are able to continue doing what they’ve done their whole lives,” she said. “It’s important to show that we care about their business.”

The market has been funded through the Health Forward grant in recent years, this year being the last. “We have put in an application for another grant for the upcoming years,” said Morrison.

New this year, Hope Unlimited is partnering with the market and its vendors to accept food that is left over and needs to be used. The vendors choose if they’d like to donate and the food goes to help clients of Hope Unlimited.

Morrison looks forward to being able to get kids involved in the market. “We have a couple programs that we’re excited to bring in this summer that will get the whole community engaged, especially younger kids,” she added. These include last week’s performance by the Miss Chelsea’s Dance Academy and the upcoming annual Family Safety Night.

Other special programs include musical performances at the market, as well as wellness screenings. “On May 30, Hy-Vee will be at the market to give free health check-ups to those who are 60 and over,” said Morrison.

The market typically has 10 to 12 vendors, with two free spots that can be utilized for one night. The vendors come from all over and offer produce, crafts, baked goods, freeze dried candy, and much more. “There’s even blacksmithing,” said Morrison. “Some make towels and tote bags and there’s a lady that sells wax melts.”

The markets are Tuesdays from 1 to 3 p.m. at Cofachique Park, 1016 N. State St.; Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Iola Chamber of Commerce, 10 W. Jackson St.; and Thursdays from 5:30 to 7 p.m. along the east side of the Iola square.

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