Advertise in Print | Subscriptions
Published August 23, 2009, 12:00 AM

Duluth Farmers Market plans for bigger, year-round site

The Duluth Farmers Market is planning a big splash to mark its 2011 centennial — the opening of a new, larger, year-round facility that could triple the number of vendors and offer cooking classes and arts programs.

By: Andy Greder, Duluth News Tribune

The Duluth Farmers Market is planning a big splash to mark its 2011 centennial — the opening of a new, larger, year-round facility that could triple the number of vendors and offer cooking classes and arts programs.

The nonprofit organization would keep its 1,200-square-foot location at 1320 E. Third St., but operate it as one of two possible satellite markets. The main market would be in a 10,000-square-foot building at a yet-to-be-determined site. The organization soon will begin seeking investors to raise about $1 million to complete the project.

“We wanted to think about the next 100 years, and with the limitations for the number of vendors and parking at the market, we wanted to see what we can do in addition to that,” said Joanne Fay, a Farmers Market volunteer who is consulting on the project. “We are at the stage now, where it’s ‘OK. What’s realistic? What are the costs? The location?’ … We are in the planning and talking phase.”

Tentative locations for the new main market include a site near the intersection of Arrowhead Road and Arlington Avenue, another near the Harbor Highlands residential development on Central Entrance, one near the Duluth Heritage Sports Center on West Michigan Street and one near Wheeler Field on Grand Avenue. The location of the second satellite market also remains to be determined.

Fay and Jim Laumeyer, another volunteer consultant, are studying where customers come from and the traffic patterns and visibility of the potential sites.

The new market would dwarf the current operation. It would be open four to five days from spring to fall, up from the current two days, and could house about 100 vendors, up from 30, Fay said. A smaller group of vendors will sell during the winter. The new market could have a kitchen to provide cooking classes on preparing local produce; a larger, more accessible parking lot; and partnerships with local arts programs.

“We want to put fuel on both the supply and the demand,” Laumeyer said of the additional venders and cooking classes.

The building might incorporate alternative energy sources, an independently run coffee shop, work from local artists; and it would present an “Earthy look,” Fay said. “We don’t want it to look like a strip mall.”

The current market, which requires growers to be in Northeastern Minnesota, has a waiting list of at least 20 vendors. With the new market, those current growers would need to ramp up production and should expect added competition, Fay said.

“We want this to be a community stimulus project,” she said, “with everyone out there growing.”

Growers Erika and Jim Snell of Homesteads Berry Farm between Duluth and Two Harbors said they have had great success at the startup market at Miller Hill Mall this fall and would explore being a part of a new, larger market as well.

“We’ve love to have an outlet to expand our business,” Erika Snell said. “Right now, we’re pretty small.”

The project’s impetus is based on a demand in the area for farmers’ markets according to a business plan written by 18 graduate business students from St. Mary’s University in the Twin Cities.

“Made from the Earth,” shopper Tammy Dixon said of garlic purchased from Peggy Sobczak’s stand on Wednesday. “It’s the best.”

Tags: