Last year, Marietta Main Street launched our first ever farmers market. The Farmers Market on Front Street's inaugural season was located on the lawn of the Armory and welcomed 3,500 visitors who supported a total of 25 vendors across the 22-week season.
The inspiration for the launch of a downtown farmers market was born out of our Business Enhancement Committee, chaired by Barb Close, member of the Marietta Main Street Board of Directors and Branch Manager of Huntington Bank. With the leadership set by Barb, our Business Enhancement Committee wanted to provide an opportunity to support a broader base of small businesses, provide an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to test drive their business plans, and drive traffic into downtown Marietta by promoting a walkable district focused on health and wellness.
Of the 25 vendors who participated in the first season of the Farmers Market on Front Street, a handful represented local farms who sold a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, eggs, and meats. A handful sold handcrafted items, some sold natural homemade body products, and others represented local nonprofits with a mission that complemented that of our downtown farmers market.
Studies have shown that farmers markets are key drivers of downtown revitalization. They inspire creative energy, promote foot traffic, utilize public space, support local agriculture, encourage walkability and nutrition, provide opportunities for socialization, target a variety of demographics, and allow the opportunity for a diversity of initiatives to meet their start.
"Farmers markets activate places and foster unique interactions. Oftentimes, they locate in underutilized spaces and they generate a dynamic flow of people into the area and within the place. Residents and tourists are attracted to markets for the ability to source food and goods from local farmers and businesses, but they also fulfill important noneconomic purposes. They are an engaging social setting where people meet over common interests and self-expressions," shares Lauren Suerth of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning in her recent article Farmers Market Impact.
Another reason our Business Enhancement Committee was inspired to launch the Farmers Market on Front Street was to meet a current need downtown: accessibility to fresh, nutritious food that is grab & go. There are no options for grocery shopping in downtown Marietta - as a Main Street, one of our goals of revitalization is a fully walkable downtown. Walkability refers to the level of accessibility an individual has to a quality of life within walking distance of one's residence or place of employment. There are no options to walk to grocery shopping downtown, and our Farmers Market on Front Street is one answer to that need.
Wouldn't it be incredible if there was so much demand of our downtown farmers market that we could transition the program into a permanent fixture - a storefront - as a co-op, for example, or a grocery full of only locally-produced items? Local farmers, producers, and makers would have permanent representation in the heart of our community as valued contributors to our success.
If you believe in this vision, we invite you to become a part of our success story. Our downtown farmers market meets every Tuesday from 10 am. to 2 p.m. from May 16th to August 29th at the Front Street parking lot of the Historic Lafayette Hotel.
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