The Lawrence Farmers Market is set to launch the 2004 season Saturday at its traditional 10th and Vermont streets location. But it may be a temporary location.
Market organizers may seek City Commission approval to move to a larger, city-owned parking lot in the 800 block of New Hampshire Street because of waterline projects.
For now, though, area residents who want to buy fresh produce and handmade crafts can mark their calendars for 6:30 a.m. Saturday. Organizers will have a brief ceremony at the city-owned parking lot in the 1000 block of Vermont Street to mark the beginning of the season. The market will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Saturdays and from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays until Nov. 13.
Market coordinator Emily Miller said 75 vendors, including 10 new vendors, had signed up for the market. She is expecting dozens more to sign up as produce season hits full swing in June and July.
"We're definitely growing," Miller said. "We have a lot of people selling lots of different items. The farmers market is really becoming almost like an open air grocery store. That's happening all across the country. People want to know who is producing their food."
But the market will be in the middle of a construction zone during most of the summer. City officials are expected to begin work soon on a waterline project that will disrupt traffic and parking along parts of 10th, 11th and Vermont streets. Miller said that was a concern because parking for market customers already was at a premium.
That is why market organizers are considering moving the market in June to the city's long-term parking lot in the 800 block of New Hampshire Street. The idea would need city commissioners' approval, and market organizers want to receive more feedback from vendors.
Mayor Mike Rundle has talked with the group about the idea and is encouraging city officials to consider it. Rundle said the lot could become the market's permanent home.
Organizers proposed moving the market to the lot in 2001. That plan drew some opposition from area businesses that were concerned the market would disrupt downtown parking for employees on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Rundle said this summer might be a good time to test the location and see if it is feasible for the market.
The new lot would provide 40 additional stalls to house vendors.
Barbara Clark, chairwoman of the market's board of directors, said area consumers would benefit from the additional space.
"People like to buy at farmers markets because they know that they are meeting the grower," Clark said. "With concerns about food safety issues these days, that's important."
|The Lawrence Farmers Market opens its season at 6:30 a.m. Saturday in the 1000 block of Vermont Street.The market is open from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Saturdays and from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays until Nov. 13.|