Education Politics Athens Farmers Market asks City Council for help with permanent location By Alexandra Newman Posted on October 28, 2013 5 min read 0 0 365 The Athens Farmers Market came to the Athens City Council meeting to ask for their support Monday night. As they prepare to get a new neighbor, they have to consider their options of places to move to. In 1972, the Athens Farmers Market made an agreement with the Athens City Council to run and sustain their farmers market if they gave them a space to set it up, according to Athens Farmers Market President Ann Fugate. They were first at the Athens Recreation Center and when they outgrew there they signed a lease with the people at the Market on State St. During the warmer months, they have about 100 vendors lined up in the parking lot selling their produce on Wednesdays and Saturdays. During the winter, they move inside the market and have about 75 vendors set up. The wait list is up to more than 50 other vendors. The space they currently occupy, in the parking lot on E. State St., is the new location of a Texas Roadhouse, whose construction should be finished by spring. With this new business moving in, there is talk about where the Farmers Market is going to go. Several locations have been discussed, but not many other places in Athens have the amount of parking they need. “The goals for our new place are permanent, paved, power, plumbing, potties,” Fugate said. Some of these things are actually required for a business of the size they want to run. But the most important thing they need is a permanent place. At least 350 parking spots are estimated. With the help of the Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, the Farmers Market conducted a survey of Athens residents 18 years and older to see what kind of impact the market has for them, how much money they spend there, how often they attend the market and what demographic they fit into. According to the study, 90 percent of people said that the market is their main reason for coming to East State St. “The Farmers Market has turned into a sort of tourist attraction,” Athens Farmers Board Member Maureen Burns-Hooker said. “People have made it a part of their trip to Hocking Hills. It was evident with the amount of people that showed up to the meeting how important this market is to the community. Forty percent of people surveyed said they go to the market at least once a week. “We need a permanent place to grow and serve the Athens community and grow,” Burns-Hooker said. The Athens Farmers Market board members asked the council to consider helping them. They determined that their next step is to set up committees to handle each aspect of the planning. In the next ten years, they plan to have the move to a permanent location complete, according to Fugate. “It only makes sense to address this issue now because of the vitality it adds to the community,” First Ward Rep. Kent Butler said.