Farmers markets offer an opportunity to spend time with neighbors and meet local growers and artisans.
New Kent County aims to enter the growing landscape with its own outdoor market, which is anticipated to open for its inaugural season this summer.
The New Kent County Farmers Market will be located at the intersection of New Kent Highway and Vineyards Parkway, and is tentatively scheduled to be open 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays from July 6 to Oct. 26, according to an online application form for vendors.
County Administrator Rodney Hathaway said that the farmers market was part of the original master plan for the Farms of New Kent when it was first adopted in 2005. After amending its proffer last year, plans to move forward with constructing the farmers market and to lease the completed farmers market to the county were included.
“We’re moving forward with the planning for operating the market, and we’re looking forward to it because we’re getting a great response from the vendors and from the residents as well,” Hathaway said.
The market is being constructed by development group GSFONK, he said. Upon completion, approved vendors will be able to sell their products under a 3,200-square-foot covered pavilion.
Construction on the pavilion began about a month ago, Hathaway said, and is expected to be completed in July.
Hathaway will serve as market manager, and is collaborating with a marketing committee made up of other members of the county’s staff.
The New Kent County Farmers Market is tentatively scheduled to be held on Saturdays, but after meeting with New Kent-based farmers to gauge their interest and discuss what they would like to see in a new farmers market, Hathaway said he’s open to moving the market to Sundays or a weekday depending on their availability.
“We also have kept open the possibility of doing a weekday market — a Tuesday, Thursday or even Sunday market — so part of the application is a question regarding the availability of vendors,” he said. “This may be so popular on Saturdays that we may add some additional days to the market too.”
Interested producers can apply to become a vendor through an online form, and Hathaway said the interest the farmers market has garnered so far has exceeded his expectations for the inaugural season. The request for applications was originally sent out about two weeks ago, he said.
“We’ve met our minimal requirement to move forward with the market, which has exceeded our expectations in this short period of time. Our goal is to have 15 to 20 vendors the first year, and I think we can get there,” Hathaway said. “Really, that’s our goal for this inaugural season, and we see this growing each year. We think that we can accommodate about 25 vendors, and ultimately, that’s where we want to be.”
The goal for the market is to showcase a variety of vendors, but with a focus on produce, he said. Ideally, the farmers market will have a maximum of 25% of all vendors selling crafts, and the rest selling locally-grown and produced snacks, drinks and more. First priority will be given to applicants that are based within a 30-mile radius of New Kent County, Hathaway said.
“We really want to focus on fruits and vegetables at this market, and other locally grown food items as well,” he said.
Approved vendors will be required to pay a $45 registration fee, according to the application form, which is available at bit.ly/2WtLMwz.
Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.