Local News

Vendors jockey for prime space at State Farmers Market

Posted July 2, 2010 6:01 p.m. EDT
Updated July 3, 2010 10:08 a.m. EDT

— The Fourth of July weekend is one of the busiest times at the State Farmers Market, and some vendors complain that market officials aren't doing enough to make room for more growers.

More than 45 vendors are set up under the roofed area at the Farmers Market, while others have set up tents in the parking lot to sell their produce and plants. The outdoor space costs about the same at the covered stalls but doesn't include amenities like electricity and running water.

"I can't have a fan, and I can't process credit or debit cards," flower vendor Scott Blount said.

Instead of a spray wand, Blount brings a water barrel and hand waters his plants, while the plants drink in the heat.

"My lilies are burned up. I've already taken $1,000 worth of plants home," he said.

Some plant vendors under the roof take up two spaces, and Blount contends that the Farmers Market has a rule that managers are supposed to limit vendors to one covered stall after mid-May to accommodate more growers.

"That rule's not being enforced," he said.

Farmers Market Manager Ronnie Best said no such rule exists.

"We go through this, it seems like, every year. It's a juggling act," Best said.

Vendors with space in the building from the previous year enter a drawing for spaces the next year. If any pull out, vendors on the waiting list can get in on the drawing.

Blount said the Farmers Market should support as many growers as possible by giving more prime, covered locations. Best said there's a chance that Blount could move into a covered stall later this month.

"Bottom line is, we just need more space. We need another building," Best said, adding that the Farmers Market might do away with tent spaces next year because they take up parking spaces.