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Help sought for Farmer’s Market in 2020

January 8, 2020
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

As 2020 gets underway, assistance is being sought to continue the Austintown Farmer's Market that has been a success since it began in 2013. Market Director Shannon Lehn is pleased where it has gone, but realizes there is a lot of work to do.

"I am looking for help in the following areas," she said, "Help with editing photos after the market, help with planning events, help with finding sponsors, help with sending press releases, help with managing special market events such as the music, crafts, etc., and help with setup and day of market at the information booth."

She said many have offered help in the past but there is so much going on from June through December that it has become hard to streamline easily what needs to be done.

Back in 2013, when Lehn got the support of Park Supervisor Todd Shaffer, the first Farmer's Market started with just five vendors.

"Things had grown exponentially since the dawn of the market as well as my workload," Lehn said.

Lehn was averaging over 20 hours a week doing all the tasks the market needed done.

"There's really no off season, because there's always planning, networking and back office work to be done," she said. "I am still in charge and will be as long as I can continue. I am looking for people to help complete some of tasks that will help the market continue its success and promote it to the community. Through the help of our market community, this will also free up some of my time so I can work on finding grants and other funding to possibly bring on paid staff members for the market as well as other benefits to our community."

She said the plan was to put the word out at the beginning of the year in hopes of putting a great team together.

"The market has thankfully continued to grow, as has our community," Lehn said. "I love our market community. We have the best people, we really do. The market is my happy place. So many people love the market and have offered to help. This year, we had monthly markets from September through December with large events and I just had one of those light bulb moments that I can no longer do this alone, so I decided at that point I would ask for help come January, once the markets were done for the season, and get the foundation laid for the upcoming 2020 season."

Anyone who could lend a hand can contact Lehn at the Austintown Farmer's Market Facebook page.

On a different issue, Lehn is also growing a very positive Facebook group that is looking at the betterment and future of Austintown. The Advocates for Austintown is the new Facebook page for those who want positive change.

"That name came about because I was scrolling Facebook and noticing that people were grumbling a lot about our town," she said. "I love our town, I think it's a great town with great people. Nothing gets accomplished when people only complain. I thought that if we could have a grassroots, community-led coalition where the basic rule is no complaining without offering a solution, that would be great."

To join the group, an individual has to answer three questions: 1. Do you understand that this group will have a ZERO TOLERANCE policy for bashing, complaining or negativity without offering some kind of solution? 2. What is your favorite thing about Austintown? 3.If you could do one thing to make Austintown a better place to live/ work/ visit, what would it be and how would you do it'?

Lehn said the group is quickly approaching the 150 member mark.

She is also involved with Keep It Local Austintown, a concept that highlights the diverse personalities of those in a community that are passionate about growing by offering unique networking opportunities. Keep It Local, Austintown strives to promote local businesses to the community by supporting businesses owners and professionals through the use of professional networking opportunities and events, social media and online presence, print material, and word of mouth.

"Local businesses are coming together to create and promote Keep It Local, Austintown and by being active in promoting the community, they are in turn receiving exposure and supporters of their own business," Lehn said. "The questions asked when members join the group have helped to define the concerns of Austintown residents. A few mentioned are need for more events and more businesses. We have many amazing businesses already in Austintown. When we come together as a community and show the support for our Austintown businesses, it will encourage investment from future business owners."

The Advocates for Austintown is also a place that people can come to either find answers to community concerns or be empowered to be the change in their own neighborhoods.

"I have many thoughts and ideas, but it's not about me, it's about our community and I look forward to our first meeting so that we can brainstorm and plan for our best future in Austintown," Lehn said



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