WILTON — Representatives of the Wilton Farmers’ Market appeared before the Select Board Tuesday night, seeking permission to relocate the Saturday market from the Old Tannery on Routes 2 and 4 to McGillicuddy Park on Main Street. The Board granted conditional approval to the request.

The Wilton Farmers’ Market, now in its second season, was started by Mt. Blue student Marah Black in an entrepreneurial class project. She has since graduated and moved on, but the core farmers and artisans who worked with her to establish the market want to keep it a mainstay of the community and local economy.

“We are looking at establishing a coop,” said Faith Jones of Dreamin’ Fahm. “After Marah graduated, her mom took over management of the market, but it’s a big project for one person. There has been a core group of 6-7 vendors and we are happy to share in the work.”

The Wilton Farmers’ Market. Submitted photo

One of the first things that Jones and eco-artisan Lisa Small did was scout out a new site, and McGillicuddy Park in the heart of the village was quickly selected. The park, which is a thin strip between Main Street and Wilson Stream, has enough space for twelve canopy spots with easy access for both foot and vehicle traffic.

“We checked in with neighboring businesses on Main Street and every one of them is very enthusiastic about the idea,” said Jones. “Life’s Perks has even offered to provide table space if we need it, in front of the coffee shop.”

Questions the Board had pertained to parking and use of town property. Select Member David Leavitt remarked that the area seemed very tight for a farmers’ market. With no specific ordinances surrounding outdoor markets he also asked what rules would need to be established and followed.

“There are about 35 parking spots available,” Jones told the Board. “And the Congregational Church across the street has offered to help out (with lawn space). Food City is willing to let vendors park in their lot as well, to make sure street parking is quick and convenient to get in and out of.”

“There are no setbacks, issues with the stream, or anything like that to be concerned with,” said Lisa Small, whose business Small Stuff is a vendor. Small also serves on the Planning Board. “It doesn’t involve any buildings. We come in, set up, and then we take everything when we leave.”

“The state regulates farmers’ markets,” said Jasmine Castonguay of Clearview Farm, another farmer representing the market. “The Department of Agriculture issues mobile vending and food preparation licenses. We follow the state law on farmers’ markets, and each vendor is insured.”

The three representatives explained to the Board that they are still in planning phases and that town officials receive an information package outlining the rules and requirements of the Department of Agriculture and Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets.

The Select Board agreed unanimously to approve the request, pending a review by the Planning Board. Town Manager Rhonda Irish added that the Wilton Recreation Committee reviews applications for public events. Scanning the rules on public events, Irish quipped, “We would have to ask that the market be closed by 10 p.m., and that none of you smoke in the park.”

Reached on Wednesday about the market’s plans, Jones was excited about moving ahead.

“This is going to be so good for the Main Street neighborhood,” she said. “We will go before the Planning Board at their September 19 meeting to get things going. We need to budget the expenses before setting vendor fees, we will need to develop vendor applications, decide on the schedule. We go every Saturday, but it would be nice to test out some evening markets too, to reach more people.”

The Wilton Farmers’ Market. Sumitted photo

Current regular members of the Wilton Farmers’ Market include Black Acres Farm, Mystic Valley Farm, Nicole’s Creations, Clearview Farm, Griffin Point Acres, Small Stuff, Soap Lady and Dreamin’ Fahm. It is currently located at 833 U.S. Route 2 on Saturdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m and runs from June through September. It hopes to open next June at McGillicuddy Park on Main Street.

 


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