Indoor farmers market planned for Harbor District

Published 7:25 pm Monday, July 3, 2017

Washington Harbor District Alliance is planting the seeds of an indoor farmers market.

The indoor market, which will be known as the Harbor District Market, will be located at the old McClellan’s Department Store on Main Street, said Chris Furlough, president of the board of the WHDA.

The building will be used to not only house a farmers market, but to provide a permanent retail space for two agriculture-related businesses, Furlough said. It could also be used to house offices for the WHDA, meeting spaces and entertainment.

“The No. 1 goal is to make it easier and more convenient and more fun,” Furlough said.

The Washington Harbor District Farmers and Artisans Market, previously the Saturday Market, is an outdoor market running April through October.

The Farmers and Artisans Market is growing. Saturday, it saw more than 1,500 visitors and approximately 30 vendors had a collective $5,000 in sales, according to John Butler, chief operations officer of the WHDA.

WHDA hopes to capitalize off of this success with the Harbor District Market, which will be able to house 50-60 vendors, while also providing advantages an outdoor market can’t.

“Having a year-round venue and a place to go in the winter is awesome,” said Will Roberson, owner of Deep Roots Farm and a vendor at the farmers market.

Another advantage of a year-round market is that it will teach local produce buyers to eat “in season,” Roberson said. “People want eggplant in the first week of May. Well, local growers can’t do that. Teaching people to eat in season will make it easier on our small, local growers.”

The indoor market will provide a climate-controlled environment that will keep produce fresh longer than an outdoor market, Furlough said. However, he and Butler hope to retain the community atmosphere that has become a staple of the outdoor Farmers and Artisans Market.

“You go to have a good time. You go to enjoy your neighbors and your community,” Butler said.

The Harbor District Market will also provide vendors a longer time to sell their products, Furlough said. While the Farmers and Artisans Market is only open Saturday mornings, the Harbor District Market could be open multiple days of the week, depending on vendors’ preferences.

Furlough expects the market to be open by April, though it will not necessarily mean the end of the Farmers and Artisan Market.

Farmers markets are important to the community, Furlough said. “It’s not only a produce place, it’s a people place.”