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Side Dishes: Vermont farmers markets on the rise

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Charlotte Roozekrans graduated from Johnson State College last year with an uncommon career goal. According to Winooski Community Partnership president Jessica Bridge, “She had dreamed of running a farmers market and ... the city of Winooski has allowed her to fulfill that dream.”

Thanks to the new market manager and the board, Onion City residents have something to look forward to this summer. Instead of the sparse Thursday market long held by the river walk, they will find an ambitious new community gathering Sundays from June 12 to October 9 on the green by the Champlain Mill.

Roozekrans worked on the Farmers Market Data and Research survey as an intern for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont. She got the market a grant from the organization just days after her hiring.

WCP board member Laura Brown of Purple Shutter Herbs says that, while Roozekrans’ broad knowledge of farmers markets is invaluable, the Winooski experience will be unique. “If we could get a huge percentage of the immigrant population to showcase the diverse population in Winooski, I think it’s a perfectly brilliant venue for that to happen,” she says.

The market will probably open with 15 to 20 vendors, stressing “quality over quantity,” says Bridge. Roozekrans is accepting applications in the categories of agriculture, prepared food and crafts via the market’s Facebook page and at winooskimarket@gmail.com. According to Brown, the team is also hoping to recruit bands and children’s entertainers to perform each Sunday.

Bridge mentions Onion City Bakers, run by pastry chef Laura Ann Nedich, as one of the handful of vendors already signed on. For her part, Brown says, “We would love to have a small ice cream maker. Maybe some people making artisan cheese we haven’t seen everywhere.”

The well-established Capital City Farmers Market in Montpelier has changes in the works, too. On April 23, the board voted to begin the process of moving operations to the green at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. The market has been offered a 20-year lease there that would provide it with the permanent home it’s sought for a decade. However, the vote does not guarantee the market’s move to VCFA, since, says market manager Carolyn Grodinsky, “There are many contingencies that could ultimately lead to a change in this course of action.”

According to the market’s board president, Jaiel Pulskamp, the current State Street parking-lot location has always been considered temporary — “It’s a little congested and cramped there,” she says. Furthermore, the realtor who owns the formerly free space began requiring payment last year.

Since the announcement that the market may leave downtown, Pulskamp says the city has made offers of a potential permanent space, responding to pressure from area businesses.

“It is possible we might get a spot on State between Elm and Main streets,” says Pulskamp. The market’s committee will make a final vote on its new home on June 1. A move probably will not happen until 2013.

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