By CAROL ROBIDOUX
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Bev Ferrante is looking forward to the Wednesday hustle and bustle set to begin July 7, when the town launches its first weekly open air farm market in the heart of the downtown district.
Ferrante, hired by the town as market manager, has been coordinating all the legal and logistical details, resulting in Tuesday night's formal announcement to the council.
Plans for the project were presented by Stu Arnett, the town's economic development coordinator, including the location and time – an area known as Pocket Park at the corner of Broadway and Manning Street every Wednesday, from 3 to 7 p.m.
Arnett said the deadline for vendors to submit applications is June 11. Cost will be $150 for a seasonal booth, or $12 for a weekly commitment, plus a $20 membership fee. Although no vendors had “signed on the dotted line” as yet, Arnett said given the competitive nature of open air market space, vendors were likely weighing their options.
“We have strong interest of about a dozen vendors, although we don't want to announce maybes at this point. Vendors are talking to other markets as well, so we don't want to announce til they actually sign on the dotted line,” Arnett said. “Even if only some of the vendors who have expressed strong interest sign on, it will be a dynamic market and we will have a good product mix.”
In a written statement, Ferrante promised a “festive community venue” which will include musical entertainment and an information booth touting other seasonal community events.
The location is strategic, said Arnett – a private patch of land owned by the Benson family, between Benson Lumber and Derry Feed run by the Evans family, creating a public/private partnership. Parking will be available on the street and in the town's municipal lot.
Currently the market is expected to run through mid-October. Plans to extend the market through winter months, perhaps by using space at Pinkerton Academy, are still in the works.
The Council voted to establish a Farmers Market Special Revenue Fund during Tuesday's meeting to account specifically for expenses and profits. Aside from the $2,000 salary paid to Ferrante for her start-up efforts, there has been no costs associated with the market's launch.
According to the vendor application and rules form, examples of items allowed for sale will include fresh produce and plants, honey and maple syrup, jams and jellies, meat or seafood, eggs and cheese, baked goods, and crafts or original art pieces. The only stipulation is that items sold pass local and state health department regulations and are made or prepared by the vendor.
It's that particular stipulation that will leave Aaron Plummer out of the town market loop – he runs Kittredge Farms, which has been the only farm stand in town selling fresh produce and plants for years.
It is a one-minute drive from the proposed downtown market site.
For 25 years, the Plummer family has been serving as middlemen, bringing fresh-picked farm fare to the people. Plummer said he is not concerned about what a weekly market in town will do to his business.
“I have more than enough business. I have my hands full. If they want to have a farm market downtown, good for them,” said Plummer. “I'm not worried about the competition.”
A meeting for participating vendors is set for June 23 at 6 p.m. to review details of the July 7 launch, and to brainstorm ideas for enhancing and expansion of the market. All interested should contact Ferrante at 434-8974, or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.