Middlebury Farmers’ Market looking for a new home

MIDDLEBURY — Directors of the Middlebury Farmers’ Market (MFM) are looking for a new location to host the popular, twice-per-week showcase of locally produced foods and crafts. A looming downtown construction project will require the market to leave its current spot in the Marble Works at the end of its current season.
“We are set on finding a new home, and hopefully the community will support us in our search,” said Hannah Sessions, president of the market’s board of directors.
Established back in 1974, the MFM has enjoyed a long run in the Marble Works shopping complex — first on the lawn fronting the Otter Creek Falls, and now in a portion of the parking lot. Around 70 different Addison County vendors — ranging from small produce growers to bakers — are on the market’s roster. More than 40 of those vendors regularly show up for the Saturday farmers’ market, and 15-20 show up for the Wednesday edition, according to Sessions.
The Wednesday and Saturday markets both run from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The MFM runs each year from early May to the end of October.
Sessions, co-owner of Blue Ledge Farm in Salisbury, stressed this year’s farmers’ market will run uninterrupted at the Marble Works until the season concludes on Saturday, Oct. 29. But organizers are already busy trying to pin down a new, permanent site for next spring, by which time work should be in full swing on replacement of the Merchants Row and Main Street rail bridges in downtown Middlebury. That work is expected to last through 2018, and will have an impact on Marble Works parking, Sessions noted. That’s why the Marble Works Partnership has asked MFM to find another spot so that the shopping complex can maximize its parking off Maple Street.
Market organizers have established some key criteria for a new home. It would ideally be 15,000 square feet (excluding parking), be highly visible, have good drainage, a restroom, and be as close to the downtown as possible in order to make it an easy destination for walkers and those taking the Addison County Transit Resources bus, according to Sessions.
A hard surface —rather than grass, would be a bonus, she added.
MFM officials’ early inquiries have yielded some promising candidates. Among the current candidates are parking lots at three Exchange Street locations: Middlebury Veterans of Foreign Wars parking lot, Vermont Hard Cider and Vermont Coffee.
The Middlebury recreation park and the future public park at 94 Main St. are also being considered, according to MFM officials.
“It has to be vendor-friendly and it has to be customer-friendly,” said Joan Cook, a longtime MFM board member and vendor from South Hardscrabble Farm.
“We need to be somewhere where people won’t have to go through downtown to get to our market,” she added of the impact of upcoming construction.
Cook and Sessions believe there’s good support among members to relocate to Exchange Street, home to Middlebury’s industrial park. Exchange Street is close to the downtown and is being sized up for some major improvements, including a sidewalk and potentially some pocket parks and art displays.
“It’s a new, growing area of the town,” Cook said.
Officials would like to see the new site pinned down by this October.
“Every time you move, it takes a while for people to find you,” Cook explained.
People with location suggestions for the Middlebury Farmers’ Market should post them on the MFM’s Facebook page, according to Sessions.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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