Farmers market coming to Fort Getty pavilion
Beginning in July there will be a new weekly farmers market in Jamestown, and none of the three young people behind the creation of the market are farmers. Heidi Doyle owns the Island Heron yoga studio, Will Wilson owns Grapes & Gourmet, and Leah Rosin- Pritchard also isn’t a farmer.
While all three have been involved in the planning, there is general agreement that Wilson came up with the original idea. He was inspired by similar markets in other parts of the state. Wilson said he thought it would be a good idea to have a market right in town. He broached the subject to Doyle over dinner one night.
“Why not?” Doyle said. “There is so much good stuff coming from the farms, and so many people are doing amazing things here.”
Rosin-Pritchard, who heard about the idea after the initial discussion, said within a week Doyle had spoken to the five farmers she needed to get the ball rolling. Rosin Pritchard noted the presence of many farmers markets statewide, and said that the absence of such a market in Jamestown – which has such a strong farm presence – left a hole that needed to be filled.
The current plan is for the Jamestown farmers market to be tightly focused on vendors and products that come from Jamestown, as opposed to other markets that may have more of a regional flavor. Wilson said the schedule local farms keep with regard to offering their products made it difficult for him to do all his shopping on one day. So the idea of having several farms in one place was appealing to him.
“Whenever I want to go to a farm here in Jamestown, I’m always missing it,” Wilson said. “It seems like I go to a farm one day, then I have to go to another farm another day. I was going to the farms three times a week and I thought it would be cool if they were just in one spot.”
According to Rosin-Pritchard, the farmers were enthusiastic about the idea, and everyone she spoke to in town thought it was a great idea as well.
“Everybody’s been clearing obstacles to make it happen,” she said.
After making sure there would be a solid base of vendors for the market, Wilson, Doyle and Rosin- Pritchard approached the town to get necessary approvals. Town Planner Lisa Bryer suggested Fort Getty as the most likely location for the market since the pavilion is already in place. Locating the market at Fort Wetherill or Beavertail would require state approvals, but Fort Getty is town owned. The orPolice ganizers recruited Town Council Vice President Mary Meagher as a possible motivating force to move the idea forward. Rosin-Pritchard and Doyle set up a meeting with Meagher.
“I told them what the issues might be, insurance and fees for example, and suggested that they come before the council since they had already talked to Bruce Keiser,” said Meagher. “So it was more just encouragement on my part.”
Meagher said it’s the council’s decision on how to create policy for the use of town facilities.
Last week the idea came before the Town Council, which is currently engaged in crafting a policy regarding town support for community events and nonprofit organizations. The council agreed to waive the rental fees for the Fort Getty pavilion so it would be affordable for the farmers. Vendors will pay a one-time fee of $75 for the season, with all of the money going toward marketing and insurance. Entry fees to the park will be waived during market hours.
Thus far Windmist Farm, Watson Farm, Stearns Farm, Jamestown Oyster Company and Good as Gold have signed on. The organizers have no plans to represent their own businesses at the market, although Doyle said a free yoga class may be offered from time to time.
“Things grown in your community is the way of the past, and it seems to be the way of the future,” Doyle said. “We hope it becomes a part of people’s routine every week.”
Other nonfarm participants are still being sought, with the proviso that for the time being, organizers want to keep the market focused on Jamestown businesses. If there aren’t enough participants by June 1, the search may be expanded to nearby areas.
Artisans, artists, musicians, bakers, candle makers and a variety of other businesses would make good additions to the market, organizers say. Anyone interested in participating can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org. The market also has its own Facebook page.
“I’ve been to a lot of farmers markets and usually it’s a big commitment financially,” Wilson said. “This one will be a nice intro farmers market if someone is interested.”
The market will be open on Mondays between 4 and 7 p.m. at the Fort Getty pavilion starting in July. Organizers are planning a celebratory party for opening day. Plans are for the market to run through August, and even extend through September if things go well.
“All of us are interested in making this happen,” Rosin-Pritchard said.