Town officials want residents’ feedback as they consider creating a “food hub” in Morrisville.
The plan, to be discussed at a meeting Thursday, May 7, would place a farmers market and community garden off Town Hall Drive, near the Morrisville Chamber of Commerce building.
“The idea is to provide Morrisville residents with better access to healthy food, and also help them grow their own produce,” Planning Director Ben Hitchings said.
The public meeting at Town Hall is 6:30-8:30 p.m. and will feature a presentation followed by small-group discussion sessions and a chance to provide town officials with comments, concerns and suggestions.
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The town and the Western Wake Farmers Market partnered last year, winning a $210,000 grant from the John Rex Foundation to create the hub.
The proposed location also would give residents the chance to walk or bike there from almost any part of Morrisville.
The food hub is across the street from the Indian Creek Greenway. That path connects via McCrimmon Parkway with the new Shiloh Greenway off Church Street in north Morrisville.
A new east-west greenway soon will also converge near the food hub site.
The Crabtree Creek and Hatcher Creek greenways, once finished, will stretch from Lake Crabtree County Park and the corner of Aviation Parkway and Evans Drive to Davis Drive.
It also will connect with Town Hall and the Morrisville Community Park.
Hitchings said he hopes people will come Thursday with ideas about what would make them more likely to take advantage of the garden, the farmers market and the greenways.
“Our goal is to reduce any barriers to participating, and increase access to healthy food,” Hitchings said. “People will have ideas on that, like, ‘If you did this, I would be more likely to patronize the market.’ Or, ‘If you did this, I would be able to use the greenway system.’”
Jim Pellegrini, board president of the Western Wake Farmers Market, said the partnership would give the farmers market more stability as well as give Morrisville a central place people can identify with.
“I’ve always thought that Morrisville lacks a center of attention, if you will,” he said. “Durham, there’s lots of things to point to. Raleigh has lots of things to point to. Even Cary has Bond Park and downtown. With Morrisville, what do you think of?”
The food hub would be the first component of a larger town center Morrisville plans to build for that very reason, at the corner of Town Hall Drive and Jeremiah Street. It could eventually include a library, recreation center, park and possibly housing, office buildings and retail.
The farmers market would move from its current location in Cary’s Carpenter Village. The grant gives the town and the farmers market until August 2017 to build the food hub, and Hitchings said it will take that much time to put the plan in place.
“We’d need a couple years to design the site, then hire a contractor to prepare the site,” Hitchings said. “This is not happening right away.”
In the meantime, Pellegrini said, the farmers market will continue at Carpenter Village, plus its new second location that opened May 2 at UNC Wellness Center at Northwest Cary, 350 Stonecroft Lane.
That new location would stay open, Pellegrini said, even after the Carpenter Village market moves to Morrisville.
To encourage families of all income levels to buy locally grown produce, meat, bread and other products, the farmers market accepts SNAP/EBT cards at both locations. It also matches what people spend with those cards, up to $20.
Pellegrini said the optimal size for a farmers market is 20 to 45 vendors, although Morrisville will have enough space for up to 55 vendors.
“It’s a delicate balancing act being small enough that everyone makes money, but is big enough to make it interesting for shoppers,” he said.
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran
Want to go?
A public information session on Morrisville’s food hub plan is Thursday, May 7, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Morrisville Town Hall.