Courier Staff Writer
The upcoming marketplace in downtown Ottumwa now has a director to lead the way.
Hy-Vee Dietitian Heather Ware will assume her role as the director of Market on Main next week.
Dianne Haas, who had been serving as the interim director, will continue fundraising for the project.
Market on Main will house a year-round farmers’ market, local small business entrepreneurs and an education component, including a teaching kitchen.
“She’ll be working with all the details of getting it up and running, making contacts with the vendors,” Haas said of Ware’s position.
Vendor areas will include not only food producers, but hopefully crafts, woodworking and more.
“There are lots of opportunities only limited by our own imagination,” Haas said.
Twenty people applied for the director position, and after interviewing four, Ware stood out as the most qualified.
“She’s a local, and that’s great,” Haas said. “We’re glad to have young people who are interested in our community and giving them an opportunity to live in Ottumwa and have a productive job.”
Haas said the group is now working on its final fundraising effort. So far, they have $500,000 from a CDBG grant, $350,000 from the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation, and additional local monies raised to match the CDBG grant, totaling around $1.1 million. But Haas said they need about $1.4 million before they can open.
The marketplace will house three incubator spaces, some retail space, a certified commercial kitchen, certified storage space for vendors, vending spaces and static markets.
“We still have quite a bit of money to raise,” Haas said. “But we’re working on writing some additional grants. Because this is a food security issue, there are different grants available for that. Providing healthy food for a community is an important thing, not just for those of low- or moderate income. Everyone needs to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.”
Year-round farmers’ markets are becoming popular, including the Downtown Farmers’ Market in Des Moines, the NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids and the Freight House Farmers Market in Davenport.
“There are different concepts, but ours is modeled after the Detroit Market and also one in Maine called Barrels Market,” Haas said. “This takes a lot of planning, and we’ve had a lot of partners in it.
“The idea is for us to let people know how to use the vegetables available locally, to buy what’s in season because those are better for their budget.”
Finalizing the details
As you enter through the door at the intersection of Main and Jefferson streets, you will walk into the retail area, according to the layout design of the marketplace.
Farther west will be an outdoor courtyard, located where there is currently an open lot next to the building. This will be used for outdoor events, to herb garden and a music venue.
Near the back of the building on the east side will be the static market and vendors, mobile vendors and cafe and educational kitchen.
In the northwest corner of the building, patrons will find a prep area, including a commercial kitchen, as well as restrooms and other office and storage space.
Haas hopes the marketplace will provide an opportunity for area vendors to produce more in a bigger market. There are around 70 vendors in the 12-county area, she said, “many of whom aren’t currently selling in the Ottumwa area.
“So if we attract more of those to our area, that would be great for the entire community,” she said.
Haas hopes the marketplace will be open by November or December, though there is not as much fresh produce in the fall and winter.
“But Tenco is producing tomatoes and cucumbers right now, so that’s something we would maybe be able to work with them,” Haas said.
The marketplace will definitely be open by April 2014, the original slated open date, for the fresh produce that will begin flooding in.
The marketplace is currently housed under the nonprofit organization Ottumwa Property and Redevelopment Company and will continue as such for seven years. At that point, Market on Main will become its own nonprofit organization.
Construction has not yet begun on the inside, Haas said, since it still needs to be cleaned out and demolition needs to begin. Once a “shell” is established, she said it will move fairly fast and the components will be mobile.
“We’re anxious to get the windows in so people can see, but that’s not the first thing that gets done,” Haas said. “It’s a great opportunity for our community to have this market. It will be a great thing for the corner of Jefferson and Main to help have an entrance to our Main Street area.”