ILFMA membership is a great way to connect with other members, save money on registration for the UPCOMING CONFERENCE and help support ILFMA’s efforts to growing stronger farmers markets in Illinois. During our drive we are featuring ILFMA members so you can learn more about all that ILFMA has to offer. We spoke with Amanda Pankau, Market Manager for the MONTICELLO FARMERS’ MARKET and is an Energy Campaign Coordinator with PRAIRIE RIVERS NETWORK. Hear what she had to say as a first year farmers market manager, and what she plans to share at the upcoming 2019 Annual Conference in Monticello at the Allerton Park & Retreat Center.

Meet Amanda Pankau, Monticello Farmers Market and Prairie Rivers Network.

Amanda Pankau is the Market Manager for the Monticello Farmers’ Market and is an Energy Campaign Coordinator with Prairie Rivers Network. Amanda’s interest in local food systems stems from her education in ecology and understanding of the impacts that industrial agriculture have on our land, water, and wildlife. In addition to benefiting our lands and waters, she also now also appreciates how local, sustainable food systems can help our small communities and our rural economies. She was involved as a Board Member and volunteer with the non-profit Food Works in southern Illinois for 7 years before moving back to her hometown of Monticello in 2017. She helped with the Farmers’ Market in the fall of 2017 and took on the role of Market Manager in 2018. She enjoys running, keeping chickens, gardening, and sharing lessons on rivers and local food with her two young sons.

Q & A With Amanda

Tell us about your experience with managing a farmers market:

The Monticello Farmers’ Market is a program of Monticello Main Street in downtown Monticello. Monticello Main Street’s mission is to strengthen the vitality of Monticello’s Downtown by promoting civic pride, encouraging growth, and preserving and improving community involvement and resources. The Market will be celebrating its 20th year this year! In my first year as Market Manager we built on the Market’s strong foundation by adding new vendors, a Market facebook page, a kid’s activity area, Musicians at the Market, and activities offered by the Monticello Area Arts Council and other community groups.

What are you looking forward about this year’s ILFMA conference?

I am looking forward to showing off all the wonderful things Monticello has to offer including Allerton Park, the Sangamon River, and our beautiful historic downtown square and shopping. I am also especially looking forward to hearing the Keynote address from Dr. John Ikerd. I keep a copy of Ikerd’s book “Crisis and Opportunity: Sustainability in American Agriculture” handy at all times! The crisis he refers to is the decline of family farms and rural communities, the rise of corporate farming, and the resulting environmental degradation. His teachings focus on the need to create a agricultural system that is ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially responsible. I look forward to hearing his thoughts about the role Farmer’s Markets can play in a sustainable food system. I’ll also be bringing my book for him to sign!

You’ll be presenting this year, what can attendees expect to learn from your presentation?

My presentation this year draws on my love of both the natural world and local food systems! I’ll be sharing information on the importance of pollinators to our food system, the threats that are leading to their decline, and how Farmers’ Markets can help save these important critters! About 30% of American crops rely on pollination by insects, especially bees. Despite their importance, bee communities, both wild and managed, have decreased over the last few decades as land management practices have changed. In 2018 the Monticello Farmers’ Market partnered with area organizations and businesses for “Pollination Celebration,” a week-long flurry of activity, commemorating Illinois Pollinator Week, June 18- 24. Pollination Celebration included a slate of activities and events at different locations throughout Monticello that connected the community and raised awareness about pollinators.

What are some of the challenges facing your market that you’d like to address in the coming season?

When I took over the Market Manager role, the market had a set of guidelines that were not being followed or enforced. As a first year manager in a long-time market it was a challenge to address the areas of discrepancy. I communicated areas of concern with vendors, engaged the Monticello Main Street Board for guidance, and we plan to better communicate and enforce guidelines moving forward.

What would you tell a farmers market manager thinking about joining ILFMA?

As a new Market Manager it was wonderful to be able to pick up the phone or email folks with ILFMA to share ideas and concerns and gain input!

Ready to join or renew your membership? CLICK HERE.