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Barre Farmers' Market on the Move

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Photo courtesy of Emily Kaminsky
Photo courtesy of Emily Kaminsky

by C.B. Hall

The Barre Farmers’ Market has announced that it is moving to the grounds of the Vermont Granite Museum on Route 302, a mile and a quarter north of the market’s former location in the city’s center. The market will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, a shift from its former Thursday scheduling.

In an interview with The Bridge, market president and Barre Town vegetable grower Alan LePage explained that the move comes in the wake of the market’s failure to find a good home downtown. The market dates from 2000 and has occupied a succession of sites—starting out at City Hall Park, moving to the Vermont Granite Museum for the first time in 2005, then to the lawn of the city’s library for an unsuccessful 2007 season. After a year off, the farmers returned to City Hall Park, the venue to which the market is now saying goodbye.

“We were losing ground—losing vendors, losing our basic customers,” LePage said of the City Hall Park site. “There were times when there was just no parking. The access was Byzantine. A beautiful spot, but with major deficits.” Research into alternative downtown venues turned up no attractive alternatives. The museum site, he said, offers plenty of visibility and plenty of space for both vendors and their customers’ cars.

“All things considered, I’d rather be downtown,” he conceded, “but farming is a business. It’s nice to be an ornament, but it’s about making money.”

The farmers are shifting to Saturday, he said, because “it was difficult to draw customers on a weekday.” The weekday timing had originally been chosen to complement the Saturday scheduling of the county’s main farmers’ market in Montpelier. He dismissed any possibility that making the location more accessible to Montpelier residents and shifting to Saturday would adversely affect the Montpelier market’s vigor. “I don’t think Montpelier has anything to worry about. . . . People in Barre don’t shop in the Montpelier market, as a rule, and vice versa.”

In a telephone interview, Laini Fondilier of Westfield’s Lazy Lady Farm, who has been selling at the Montpelier market for 18 years, didn’t seem worried, either. “I think there’ll be a pinch of a loss,” she said. “We had Barre people showing up on Saturday. Saturday is a very good market day. I wish them luck.”

The Barre market will launch its season at the museum on May 17, with a celebratory grand opening scheduled tentatively for the summer solstice, June 21. LePage is optimistic about the change: “We’re hoping to be reborn, with a bang. Already we’ve got double the number of vendors that we had [last year].”

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