Burlington City Council OKs downtown farmers market

Molly McGowan/Times-News

Come April, people will be able to purchase fresh produce Saturday mornings at a farmers market in downtown Burlington.

The City Council on Tuesday night approved Burlington Downtown Farmers Market, Inc.’s request to use the city parking lot behind Company Shops Market, bordering Webb Avenue, every Saturday morning from April through October for a farmer-owned-and-operated market.

Eric Henry, on the co-op’s board of directors, told the council he and the rest of the board have been encouraged by the city’s support of Company Shops Market, and, “We want to take it to the next step.” He said, “There’s not a Saturday morning farmers market in Alamance County,” and behind the co-op is the perfect location.

In a news release Henry handed out at the meeting, Chris Bartlett, general manager of the co-op, expressed his support of the farmers market location and said the two would foster a symbiotic relationship.

“Company Shops Market has many products that will enhance the purchases made at the Farmers Market, while enjoying the atmosphere of community spirit,” Bartlett said in the release.

“I think they kind of see it as a win-win situation for their Saturday morning business,” added Anne Morris, executive director of the Burlington Downtown Corporation. Henry made it clear the farmers market will be owned and run by the farmers themselves.

“It will be an independent organization, separate from the (Burlington) Downtown Corporation and Company Shops,” he said.

Thus far, the five “founding farmers” of the Burlington Downtown Farmers Market are Ray Christopher, of Timberwood Organic Farm near Efland, Buck Cochran, of Peacehaven Community Farm in Whitsett, Chris and Jamie Brie Murray, of Sunset Farms, and Charlie Sydnor, of Braeburn Farm, both in Snow Camp.

The market’s initial funding was supplied by Healthy Alamance and Alamance Regional Medical Center.

“Healthy Alamance continues to support efforts that connect communities to healthy opportunities, such as increasing access to fresh foods,” said Director of Healthy Alamance April Durr in the news release. “Research shows that a neighborhood farmers market can have a significant impact on our obesity rates.”

At the meeting, Henry told the council, “We’re all ready to go … we need an OK from you.” He said the farmers have completed the legal process of making the farmers market incorporated, have registered with the state and have liability insurance, since the Saturday market would be held on city property.

Peggy Reece, Burlington’s director of finance and risk management, said staff did not yet have proof of insurance in hand. Therefore, the City Council approved the Burlington Downtown Farmers Market’s request to use the city parking lot on Saturdays, contigent on showing proof of insurance.

The exact dates and hours of the market will be determined by the farmers, but projected times are 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturdays from April through October.

Farmers interested in participating in the Burlington Downtown Farmers Market should call Christiana Kernodle at 336-213-2631.