The Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce has handpicked a local farmer to take on the job of managing and growing the Seymour Area Farmers Market.

Celeste Bowman lives and works on a farm in Reddington and has been a successful vendor at the farmers market for the past 17 years. She also is a specialist with Seymour High School’s Jobs for America’s Graduates program.

Her family will continue to sell their fresh produce at the market this year, and they also plan to offer eggs and pork from chickens and pigs they raise.

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Besides selling, Bowman will serve as the market manager, a new part-time position created as a result of two local efforts to improve Seymour.

Those efforts are the state-funded Hometown Collaboration Initiative and Vision 2025, a grassroots movement started by young professionals in the city. Bowman’s salary will be paid from the Hometown Collaboration Initiative grant. HCI dollars also will be used for the position’s salary in 2017.

One of the areas Vision 2025 is focusing on is promoting health, which is why improving the farmers market was chosen as a project.

Sara Bane of Seymour is heading up the Vision 2025 promoting health committee and said Bowman is an excellent choice to lead the market.

“Celeste will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the position,” Bane said.

The Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce is overseeing the market manager position through a newly formed committee with the goal of increasing the number of shoppers and vendors.

“Many years ago, the farmers market was a busy, vibrant place, and I would love to see it become that again,” Bowman said. “There is so much potential in Seymour for us to have a thriving farmers market, and I want to do whatever I can to help the market grow.”

Her duties will include recruiting vendors, being onsite during all open market hours, promoting the market to the public, enforcing rules and collecting vendor fees.

Besides the market manager, another big change coming is new hours. Instead of a drop-in system, where one day there might be six vendors set up all day selling a variety of produce and the next just one or two vendors with a couple of items in the morning, the market will have set hours.

Scheduled to open May 28 in the Walnut Street Parking Lot, the market will have limited hours, with the biggest focus from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. The market also will be open 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays.

Vendors will still be able to set up at other times if they want to this year, but that will change for 2017.

Bowman said she agrees with the chamber committee that there is a need for the farmers market to do business differently.

“The changes they have made are changes that I have been hoping would be made for quite some time,” she said. “And many of the changes are ones that I have already implemented at my booth.”

Not all changes may work for Seymour, but Bowman said people should be willing to try something new.

“This is a transition year, and there will be a continual evaluation of the market, the impact of the changes and the feedback from vendors and customers,” Bowman said. “Then we can evaluate this season and look for additional improvements for next season.”

Vendors interested in registering for the market can do so on the chamber’s website at seymourchamber.com.

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.