I had a conversation with Jacqueline Williams, a volunteer with The Northern Plains Botanic Garden Society. Williams and Botanic Gardens have helped establish West Acres Shopping Center’s new outdoor farmers market. I was a little curious as to how this market started and thought a conversation with her would help clarify a few things.
HPR: Can you give us a brief history on the Botanic Gardens?
Jackie: The Northern Plains Botanic Garden Society is a 501(c)3 that has an eye toward building a year-round botanic garden, conservatory and arboretum in the Fargo-Moorhead area to build community through art, culture and horticultural education. We are 400+ members strong and growing.
We aim to improve green space throughout the region while ever mindful of the environment through activation. We are working with the City of Moorhead on a permanent location while we maintain our projects at 28th and University, the N.R.I. artium and West Acres. Anyone who wishes to get active in our mission is welcome to join the Northern Plains Botanic Garden Society or volunteer, hopefully both! You can get information on our fundraising events, membership and ways to get involved by going to npbotanicgarden.com.
HPR: How long have you been involved with this society?
Jackie: I personally have been involved for just about three years. In addition, my family volunteers throughout the year. It is a great way to spend time with those that I love!
HPR: Why did the Botanic Gardens decide to team up with West Acres instead of, say, West Fargo Farmers Market or the Saturday Market at the Dike in Fargo?
Jackie:The Northern Plains Botanic Garden Society has a working agreement with West Acres to design and maintain the interior and exterior plant design. West Acres approached us with the idea several years ago and the project has now come to fruition. The West Acres team views this as a way to reach the community and together we are all about offering fresh, local produce and products. The location is great due to the proximity to public transportation and built in customers!
HPR: A few markets have come and gone in the last few years in the area. What do you think will help keep this one going so the market is here again next year?
Jackie: West Acres has a built in customer base and the opportunity to promote the market to thousands of people each day through signage and word of mouth. The location is easy to access and parking is plentiful. Vendors are happy with our reasonable rates and report success in the sales thus far! We welcome vendors and customers alike. Join us at the fresh market every Thursday now through October, weather permitting.
HPR: Is there any representation of the Botanic Gardens at the market?
Jackie: Our role is “market chief.” We manage the day to day activities and have our material on hand at the event. The vendors and customers are the stars of the show!
HPR: Why do you think it is important, just in general, to have a market at West Acres?
Jackie:We offer the opportunity to enjoy fresh, locally grown or created products in an aesthetically pleasing environment in a central location.
HPR: What question and or information do you feel I have forgotten to ask you about or that you would like our readers to know?
Jackie: The Northern Plains Botanic Garden Society offers a mix of arts, culture and education throughout the year. You can view our events at npbotanicgarden.com. We have an annual wine tasting event, classes and volunteer opportunities. We encourage your readers to join in, participate and get involved. Come out and enjoy our fun and free garden at 28th and University.
By the way, we get calls this time of year from seniors and brides who want to take school photos at our gardens. To all: yes, you can come out anytime and take photos!
IF YOU GO:
West Acres Farmers MarketThursdays through Oct. 30
West Acres Shopping Center lot, 3902 13th Avenue Southwestacres.com
Northern Plains Botanic Garden Society bus tour
Sat, Aug 9th, 8 to 9 p.m.
NPBGS Greenhouse, 1201 28th Ave N
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