Farmers Market food fight in Blacksburg
Updated On: Aug 14 2013 07:36:22 PM EDT
Maybe the best way to describe this next story is with two words: "food fight," and it's happening in Blacksburg.
To be more exact, it should be called a "farmers market food fight."
Three weeks ago, a brand new farmers market started in the parking lot of Blacksburg Square, a strip mall on the South end of town.
The new Community Farmers Market on South Main started in late July. Vendors have been selling locally grown fruits and veggies, and homemade breads and jams every Wednesdays and Saturday. Seems simple enough, but town officials say these vendors are breaking the law and could be fined up to $5,000 if they don't stop.
"I told them yesterday." said Blacksburg Mayor Ron Rordam, "it's not about a farmers market. It's about a business springing up in a parking lot."
That part's true, the Community Farmers Market sits on asphalt, roped off with black and yellow caution tape near the BT bus stop on South Main Street.
Folks I asked said they liked the free parking the strip mall site offered and said the town could use another farmers market.
"I don't see there being an issue," said Kaitlin Read shopping at the market with her husband, "the [Blacksburg Farmers Market] on the campus or close to the campus, it's really full and so if you can expand and get people to come out, that's great."
A couple of miles up the road sits the Blacksburg Farmers Market. Close to 50 vendors also come out on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Some have been at this location since the early 90s and say they were blindsided by the competition.
Megan Foster said she represents "Friends of the Farmers Market", an organization that focuses on vendor issues.
"I think possibly the way it came about," said Foster, "there were some hurt feelings. That happened because that market started up and not necessarily everybody was approached about it."
The town says it needs to figure out how farmers markets fit into its long range plans. Foster agreed but said it's much more basic,"The reality is it is competition for this market and I think we also feel its important for the public to know this is not a spinoff."
Mayor Rordam said he believes the town can find a way for both markets to exist and serve different communities, and hopes to have a solution soon.
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