Town Will Take Over Farmers Market

Published 2:25 pm Tuesday, November 5, 2013

FARMVILLE — Grow your own.

The Town of Farmville has decided to assume responsibility for cultivating its Farmers Market and looks to schedule a wider variety of different events.

“We are taking over the Farmers Market because we feel like it needs to be more diverse and open to a broader area, not just Prince Edward County,” town council member Sally Thompson said, explaining her support for a motion that would be unanimously passed.

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“We would like to see it include all the surrounding counties,” she continued, “and anybody who applies to have a space.”

The Town’s takeover will be effective January 1. The Farmville Farmers Market Association, which has prescribed participation in the market for Prince Edward County and counties that surround it, will continue operating the market through the end of the year.

During a discussion last year, an association official explained to council members that membership was not being expanded to additional counties beyond the immediate area because unlimited expansion would create a “point of diminishing returns” for vendors.

“That’s why we set percentage limits. If you have 20 vendors at a market and 18 of them are produce,” then-association chairperson Roz Goin explained to town council members, “nobody makes a decent amount to make it worthwhile bothering to come. If they’re selling a non-competitive product, chances are we’ll take them. If it’s something compatible with the market.”

Town officials apparently have their own philosophy for the market, a different game plan they want to put in place for the facility purchased by Farmville taxpayers.

The Town paid $507,425 for the North Street property and used approximately $100,000 in Virginia Tobacco Commission grant funds to help convert the space into a Farmers Market, replacing the former market space under the eaves of the Farmville Train Station.

The Town says it will use revenue from fees, which have been going to the association, to make continued improvements in use of the site, according to officials.

“And we would like to see more things held at the Farmers Market so that we really utilize this facility,” Thompson said.

“It’s a great resource…More people need to come and we need to schedule more events. And if we have a Farmers Market we can also have Joe Blow cooking hamburgers out in the parking lot, we can have dancers, we can do all sorts of things,” she enthused. “So we need to make this a multi-use area.”

Town Manager Gerald Spates told council members that he has had people ask him to have the Farmers Market on first and third weekends and other events on the second and fourth weekends each month.

“I don’t know if it’s possible to do that,” he cautioned.

But council member Donald L. Hunter pointed out that with the Town “taking it over, anything’s possible now.”

During the course of the discussion, Spates noted, “we spent the money to fix it (the property) up, we spent the money to buy it and we turned it over to somebody else to run it…I think council needs to be the one that makes the ultimate decision on what goes on down there.

“…I think Ms. Thompson is exactly right, I think we need to be more involved in it,” the town manager said. “Have some input.”

The Farmers Market, as currently planned, will be operated through the Town’s Recreation Department beginning January 1.

Ironically, during her discussion with Town officials during a town council work session last year, Goin raised the issue of a rumor that the Town was going to takeover the farmers market—“swoop in and take it from” the association.

The rumor, downplayed a year ago, has become reality.