Parks and recreation staff recently named the Zebulon Community Center their top pick for the town’s first farmers market.
Maurine Brown, the market’s manager, shared that information and a meaty set of guidelines for the Zebulon Farm Fresh Market as she made her first presentation to the town board Dec. 1. Brown held a meeting for prospective vendors Thursday and had several come to hear details about the market, planned to open in the spring.
“We have commitment from about five vendors at this point,” she said. “I’d really like to see about a dozen.”
Funding for the farmers market, including part-time pay for Brown, is flowing from a three-year grant awarded in July by the John Rex Endowment.
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Town leaders are hoping the farmers market will help put an end to Zebulon’s recent designation as a food desert – an area where it is difficult for residents to access fresh produce. That goal was taken into consideration when the location for the market was chosen.
“We went back and forth through many, many locations,” Brown said. “We came up with a lot of reasons why the community center is the best location. First, it’s located in the target area of the grant.”
Brown noted there is no grocery store within close proximity of the community center.
She named several other factors that make the site a good fit for the market: it is in a high-traffic area with good visibility where there is also access to restrooms and electricity. She said the large parking lot will be accommodating for vendors, customers and future growth, and that the town can incorporate other community center programs.
Brown’s blueprint calls for the market to run Saturdays from May 2 through Oct. 10, 2015. The proposed hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Commissioner Dale Beck asked if the hours could be extended so that the market opens earlier and ends later. Brown’s reply was that the start time is designed to meet the needs of farmers who want to pick fresh produce the morning of the market, and that the duration of four hours will prevent the market from becoming too exhausting.
The current guidelines stipulate that vendors must produce the items they sell and that product origins must be identified and prices posted at all times. The town is also recommending that vendors have their own liability insurance.
Fees for vendors are set at $75 weekly (22 Saturdays), $50 bi-monthly (11 Saturdays), $35 monthly (5 Saturdays) and $10 for guest vendors (1-4 Saturdays). Vendor spaces are to be 10’x10’, with extra space available for an additional $5.
In an effort to be as user-friendly as possible, the plan calls for EBT, debit and credit cards to be accepted at the Zebulon Farm Fresh Market.
Parks and recreation leaders want the market to become self-sustaining and continue to operate once the three-year grant funding dries up.
“We’re just continuing on,” said Zebulon Parks and Recreation Director Greg Johnson. “The key now is to continue to promote it and try to attract more vendors. We’re just keeping the (town) board informed as we go.”