Downtown move eyed for Farmers Market

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – Downtown could become the place to go for fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers.

Representatives of the Sheboygan County Interfaith Organization, which operates farmers markets in Plymouth and Sheboygan, met the Redevelopment Authority Thursday to sound out moving the Plymouth market to a downtown site on the Plymouth Arts Center grounds.

A fixture for many years in Plymouth’s City Park, the market has been held the past two years at the Generations intergenerational center, where it took place every Thursday from 12 noon to 5:30 p.m.

Carrie Caselton Lowe of the SCIO explained to the RDA that she is coordinating the effort to determine if a move to downtown would be feasible.

“I started out as a vendor (at the Farmers Market) in 2012 and I would love to still be vending, but it needs more life, more participation,” Caselton Lowe said. “At the current location, there is not a lot of foot traffic out there and there is really a major need for marketing.”

The Plymouth Arts Center has offered to host the Farmers Market on its north lawn, she added, with parking available there.

“There is a real connection between food and art, and there is a strong art scene in downtown Plymouth. Plus, there’s lots of tourists to tap into downtown,:” Caselton Lowe pointed out.

Judy Tauscheck, who coordinates the Plymouth Farmers Market for the SCIO, said the move from City Park was made because of the space limitations there.

“When we went to City Park the city said we couldn’t have any more than 10 vendors. On two different occasions last summer we had 17 vendors, but the problem was getting customers to come,” Tauscheck said.

“It’s really whatever the community wants,” SCIO Executive Director Kim Damrow told the RDA.

Plymouth Intergenerational Coalition Director Joann Wieland told the RDA that Generations is willing to continue to host the market, “But I too want to see what’s best for the Farmers Market.”

She added that Generations is looking at ways to increase traffic for the Farmers Market, if it stays there, while also pointing out that the intergenerational center is within walking distance of several schools and large apartment complexes.

One idea under consideration, Wieland said, is to hold family concerts on the same day as the Farmers Market.

“I’m really happy to see someone who wants to come downtown,” RDA member Jackie Jarvis said of the Farmers Market’s exploration of a move. “I think it’s wonderful that the arts center has offered its space. I’m supportive of any movement that would get the Farmers Market into the downtown and help generate business.”

Jarvis added that she would prefer to see a Saturday market, but both Damrow and Caselton Lowe noted that Sheboygan and Elkhart Lake already hold their farmers markets on Saturday, which would severely limit the number of vendors who might come to Plymouth.

“You have two models here and both models could be successful,” City Administrator Brian Yerges said of the Generations and Plymouth Arts Center locations. “The key part is the lack of marketing. I don’t think there’s has been a strong effort to market this. Where do the vendors want to go, that’s the key.”

Caselton Lowe said of the few vendors she has spoken to thus far, only one preferred the Generations site over a downtown site.

As for growing the market and increasing the number of vendors, she characterized it as, “kind of a tough thing. It’s kind of a chicken and egg thing. It’s like ‘build it and they will come,’ but where do you build it?”

“I think this is a decision the SCIO has to make,” RDA Chair Lee Gentine concluded. “Whether it’s downtown and you make sure it is the proper location, or whether it remains at Generations, it’s your choice. The important thing is that we be supportive of it wherever it is located.”

“Everybody needs to be on board and support it wherever it is,” Caselton Lowe agreed.

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