JJC will launch a new market this year, using a two-year, $92,059 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture meant to expand the availability of locally grown fruits and vegetables in Joliet.
Details are still being finalized, but it is known the market will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. every Thursday from May 23 to Oct. 24 on the college's main campus, 1215 Houbolt Road, Joliet, JJC spokeswoman Rachel Rose said. It will be overseen by Donna Theimer, chairman of the Agriculture/Horticulture/Vet Tech Department.
The college's event will join the long-established Downtown Joliet Farmers Market that's held every Friday in the summer on Van Buren Plaza and Chicago Street. And, potentially, it will also compete with the Will County Farmers Market, which debuted last year on Sundays at the Louis Joliet Mall. Both run from June through September.
However, it's not yet known if the market at the mall -- sponsored by the Senior Services Center of Will County -- will be returning. The shopping center was purchased by Starwood Capital Group last summer, and no decisions have been made yet on its return, mall Marketing Director Alysia Gordon said Tuesday.
"We're really just starting to talk about 2013," Gordon said.
As for JJC's market, the grant money is to be used to "expand (the school's annual) farmers market into a weekly event, purchase market supplies and equipment, secure promotional materials and advertising, conduct training and outreach for farmers and consumers, and obtain Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) capacity to serve the neighborhood’s low‐income residents," according to a news release announcing the initiative.
JJC was one of 131 projects in 39 states to receive funding under the USDA’s Farmers Market Promotion Program.
The school has already started the process of establishing the market, with bid proposals for equipment being accepted through Tuesday. Among the items being purchased are pop-up tents, tables, chairs, and rack/panel movers.