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Sharon Singh of Modesto was driving through downtown Ceres Wednesday afternoon when she stumbled upon the Ceres Farmers' Market. The portable white awnings caught her eye. Singh didn't know there was such a market and stopped to buy some fruits and vegetables.

She's not the only one who's discovered the market by accident. Now city officials and a private management group want to be more intentional about advertising a healthier weekly draw to downtown.

The sweet aroma of cantaloupe mixed with that of peaches and nectarines as Pam Agnew and Tammy Westbrook sat in the shade of the gazebo Wednesday and talked about changes that should bring in more people to Ceres Farmer's Market.

"It's new and not a lot of people know about it," said Westbrook.

The two business partners of the Ceres based Green Light Management believe that more can be done to draw produce shoppers to the downtown park as well as keep vendors' sales up.

Agnew will be introducing gimmicks to help buoy attendance and sales. Today's market for example will offer rootbeer floats to anyone who spends $10 or more with a vendor.

The market is also changing its noon to 6 p.m. hours to better accommodate those who work business hours. Most vendors pack up about the time most 9-to-5 workers are getting out on buying trips. Agnew said the market will operate from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The market offers special activities on the first Wednesday of the month which has a drawing effect. On Wednesday, Aug. 5 the market takes on an "Emergency Preparedness" theme with a mixture of cowboy themed activities including steer roping and square dancing.

In August the markets will feature sign-ups for blood drives and CPR classes.

There's also behind the scenes incentives being offered to vendors who may not be inclined to stay because they had bad sales.

"There is a huge learning curve for this," said Agnew.

She also wants to bring in egg, arts and crafts and floral vendors.

Two vendors in particular have enjoyed brisk sales. They are Maria's Produce and Edith's Gourmet Baking Company with baked goods and breads.

Agnew expects the market to operate year round. When the summer produce is out of season, she expects others to come in selling walnuts, almonds, persimmons, lemons and figs.

City officials who are running the Ceres Downtown Revitalization Area Board (CDRAB) are planning to use Farmers' Market as a marketing tool for downtown.

The push for a regular Farmers Market was made by the Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children and the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program. The agency heard concerns from parents that they couldn't find fresh fruits and vegetables and with childhood obesity being a concern in Ceres, decided to initiate the farm-to-market outlet.

The market also takes EBT cards for low-income families. EBT stands for Electronic Benefit Transfer and is part of the federal Food Stamps program. Recipients who qualify are given a plastic debit card that allows them to redeem them for wooden tokens that are accepted by all the vendors at the Farmers' Market for purchase of fruits and vegetables.

WIC coupons are also accepted. WIC stands for Women, Infants and Children and offers government financial aid to struggling mothers.

As of this month the market is accepting county senior vouchers. Seniors must be over the age of 52 and qualify under income guidelines.