Vergennes farmers’ market on the move

VERGENNES — The Vergennes Farmers Market is making plans to move this spring from its longtime home on the city green to the Kennedy Brothers building parking lot further north on Main Street, according to new volunteer managers Christopher and Sandy Reck.
The Recks — who sell pies at the market — met with the Vergennes City Council on Tuesday to discuss any city permissions that might be needed and to explain their decision.
They told council members that their experience operating a winter farmers’ market inside the Kennedy Brothers building this past winter went well, with up to 100 customers and 12 vendors on Saturdays.
Christopher Reck addressed the reasons that he and other members of the Vergennes Farmers Market board have decided to uproot the summer market.
“Why move to Kennedy Brothers? There are some issues,” Reck said. “Many of the vendors are struggling.”
He listed limited parking for customers near the city park, and the related problem of pedestrian access to the green through heavy traffic, especially for families with children; lack of rest rooms; limited visibility on the green; and the lack of a back-up site in case of rain.
Reck said by setting up from 4 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays at the north end of the Kennedy Brothers parking lot there would be plenty of room for up to 20 vendors, most of whom have already expressed interest, while still leaving room for parking. No one would have to cross a road to access the market, he said, and signs would be more visible.
Reck, who operates the Route 7 Pie Co. as well as Burlington marketing firm Direct Design Inc., said organizers also plan to make the farmers’ market more of a destination by providing live music and attractions for children every Thursday.
“We want to create more value for the vendor,” he said.
Reck said he and Kennedy Brothers owners Bob and Lillian Feuerstein also envision the market as a way to promote not only the Feuersteins’ property, but also the city’s northern gateway.
“We can use that (the farmers’ market) to promote the north end of the city,” he said.
Reck told the council and City Manager Mel Hawley in an email he has talked with Kennedy Brothers’ tenant Shacksbury Cider about a potential partnership, and he is optimistic although nothing yet has been made final.
“We have talked with them about doing coordinated events,” he said on Tuesday.
Hawley said Reck needed to coordinate with the Feuersteins on any official application, and that permitting could be simple. The city owns part of the Kennedy Brothers parking lot and licenses it to the Feuersteins for use, and Hawley said on Tuesday that licensing agreement might cover the farmers’ market.
However, it also depends on exactly where the market plans to set up, and Hawley said Reck and other organizers had to pin that down on a map at city hall to determine if any of the market would encroach on city property not covered by the licensing agreement. If so, further discussion and city council involvement would be needed, Hawley said.
“You and he (Bob Feuerstein) needto work together on this,” Hawley said.
Reck told Hawley and council members he would do so, and also pledged to put his 30 years of marketing experience to good use for the Vergennes Farmers Market.
“Our plans involve injecting new life into the market and offering something beyond what a typical small farmers market has to offer,” he said in an email to Hawley. “I know we can do that.” 

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