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Market closes amidst controversy, vendors find new location in Neva

A new Winter Market is starting Saturday, Nov. 7 at the Neva Schoolhouse Commons located at 5500 Roan Creek Rd. Vendors will offer products ranging from locally grown produce, beef and pork, homemade baked goods, crafts, soap and more. Submitted photo.

By Tamas Mondovics
Editor

In a recent press release, the Johnson County Farmers Market Board of Directors announced that last Saturday was the final market date of the 2020 calendar year. The Board’s announcement also means that it will not sponsor a winter market either.

“JCFM plans to resume our regular summer season at Ralph Stout Park, with a tentative opening date of May 1, 2021,” said JCFM Board of Directors, member-at-large Scott Greiber.

The news came on the heels of the surprise resignation of JCFM Manager Jennifer Skarsaune and a drama-filled fallout between some of the current vendors and members of the JCFM board of directors.

“I am disappointed in the Board’s decision for canceling the Winter Market, especially after it was already approved and scheduled at the Neva Schoolhouse Commons free of charge to the vendors,” Skarsaune said. “To resign was not an easy decision since I have enjoyed the job very much. I felt I was a part of the community. I put my heart and soul into it.” 

The press release stated, “JCFM was unable to finalize an agreement with Neva Commons to hold our winter market at their venue this November and December. As such, JCFM will not be participating in any activities held at the Neva Commons. We sincerely apologize to our supporters and vendors for canceling the winter season of the market on such short notice. We wish to thank our supporters, vendors, and customers for understanding the challenges COVID-19 has created this year for safely holding an indoor event. The dedication of our vendors and immense support from the community over the past ten years made this a difficult decision.”

The board also emphasized in its release that “we are not authorizing the use of Johnson County Farmers Market’s name or logo to promote a winter market further.” It is noteworthy that while as a non-profit organization, the JCFM will not sponsor or support a winter event, it does not mean that there won’t be one.

According to those close to the situation, nearly ten JCFM vendors have said they will sell their produce at the Neva Commons independently from the JCFM Organization. That may not be good news for the JCFM thanks to the possibility they may not return to the non-profit organization in the spring.  

“When I expressed my concern that vendors were going to be upset and may not return next year, I was simply told, “then it will just be the four of us (vendors on the board),” Skarsaune said. “I poured my heart and soul into this season to try and overcome the financial woes of the market and the challenges COVID presented. I worked hard to build relationships with the vendors so they would keep coming back only to have the board not care if they came back or not in the end.” 

According to sources close to the situation, the JCFM Board of directors is planning to meet with the current vendors to discuss the market’s current and future state.
For now, the Winter Market at the Neva Schoolhouse Commons (not associated with the JCFM) is promising to be held the first and third weekends of each month from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. 

Aside from the current businesses at Neva Schoolhouse Commons, ten vendors are now expected to offer up their locally grown produce, beef, and pork, fresh homemade baked goods, handmade crafts, and soap, to name a few. For questions or more information about the Johnson County Farmers Market, please visit www.johnsoncountyfm.com.