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Govanstowne Farmers' Market Closes, Looks to Improve

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she was confident the market will continue to grow.

As the Govanstowne Farmers’ Market closed its second year Wednesday night supporters said the market was performing well, but some customers and vendors saw room for improvement.

Jon Hourcade, a VISTA with who helped organize the market, said there has been a steady increase in customers through its 10-week run this summer.

"We had pretty good attendance the first day, and it dropped a little the second week. But every week since then we’ve had more people unless there were thunderstorms," Hourcade said.

Hourcade said last week the market drew about 370 people and estimated the average crowd was about the same.

He also said that as the farmers' market enters season three the key to improving will be increased community support.

"The Hamilton Lauraville market is in a very similar area, a very similar location, but they get a lot of community support," Hourcade said. "There just needs to be a little more community buy in, you know, everybody helping promote, everybody brining their neighbors."

Last year Loyola University, as part of its York Road Initiative, to help address residents’ desire for more fresh food along the York Road corridor.     

Raymond Lanza-Weil, of Radnor-Winston, said he walks to the market every Wednesday with his dog Pancho, and said that he thinks it’s a great idea but he wished more people would come.

He said on his neighborhood list serve a lot of people have questioned why more residents aren’t attending the market, and that many of his neighbors have said the heat, the asphalt and the hours play a role in the market's limited attendance.

"It seems as if its not reaching people throughout all the neighborhoods around here," Lanza-Weil said.

Jim Roberts, of Bees by the Bay, said he does several farmers markets but avoided directly critiquing the business at Govanstowne.

"Well, there’s the potential for growth," Roberts said.

But Roberts said the market has a good mix of vendors and that maybe extending the market run into the fall may help generate more business.

"It’s just a matter of catching on with the community," Roberts said.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who toured the market on Wednesday, said farmers' markets like Govanstowne help fill a void in communities that don’t have access to fresh and affordable food, and expressed confidence this market will also become a staple in the community like others in the city.  

"Everyone knows that things have to grow over time, that you have to build a tradition. I’m pleased Loyola is making the investment and allowing this to grow," Rawlings-Blake said. "And I think overtime this is a perfect location, and I know that it will grow just like all of the other farmers markets."

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Laura P August 16, 2012 at 03:26 AM
Maybe there's a reason for the poor attendance at the Govanstowne Farmers Market. I haven't seen it promoted anywhere, except occasionally on Patch and weekly through the York Road Partnership newsletter, often in a begging tone - "please, please come out and support the market!" I could be wrong, but I suspect there are only about 30 people who read the YRP newsletter regularly. Certainly there are only about 30 people who regularly attend the meetings. Mostly it's Bill Henry's political club. Anyway, I just feel sorry for the wonderful vendors who have come out every week to this thing, to very poor attendance. Could it be that the corner of that fenced-in lot is a bad location? Maybe, but I don't think the initial promotion has worked well enough to even be sure.

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