Purveyors of the "buy local" philosophy might be able to get their weekly fix of fresh produce and other locally grown goods in downtown Pickerington if a proposed Farmers Market is approved by Pickerington City Council.
Sandy Melillo, president of Olde Pickerington Village Business Association, presented a plan to council whereupon the organization would lease city-owned property on the corner of N. Center Street and Town Square Drive in order to operate a weekly Farmers Market starting in June 2013.
The land is currently a gravel lot utilized for public parking.
The initial concept of the plan received preliminary approval with a 7-0 vote by Pickerington City Council at its Oct. 2 meeting.
Melillo told council the market would run for 14 weeks, from June 20 through the end of September. She said she is now the process now of lining up vendors.
"We do have a timeline, Melillo said.
"The research we've done (shows) we need to get our vendors in line by January," she said.
"If not, they'll go somewhere else, Melillo said.
"If council could agree in concept to (allow us) to use the property for a Farmers Market that would be helpful."
Mayor Lee Gray asked Melillo whether the market would conflict with public parking during the week of the city's Violet Festival, which is held in July.
"We would like to come to some kind of agreement with the Violet Festival," Melillo said.
Melillo provided further details about the farmers market after the the council meeting. She emphasized the key to its success will hinge on getting the requisite number of vendors involved.
"It's going to be on Thursdays from 4 to 7 (p.m.) every week," Melillo said.
"We've been having farmers call us wanting to know if we're going to do this (and) they are excited about coming to our community. Ten have verbally committed to doing it," she said.
She said the ideal number of vendors would be 20 or 30 on a weekly basis.
"That would be awesome, but this will be the first year so we're being very conservative. The vendors will come and stay if the community is involved, but (they) won't stay if the community doesn't take advantage of the farmers market," she said.
Melillo said she anticipates the Farmers Market will fulfill a need as local consumers seek a variety of healthier options.
"People are more health conscious, so it's nice to provide this to the community right here in our backyard," she said.
"We hope to have a variety of things, whatever is in season of course, but also maybe some jams and jellies and possibly baked goods."
Melillo said the overarching goal of the farmers market, as with all of the events sponsored by the business association, will be to bring people to downtown Pickerington.
"We've always felt that we're kind of a hidden treasure down here," she said.
"It can be difficult to get people from the north end of Pickerington interested in downtown. We just don't have a lot of retail down here."
Melillo said the site is ideally situated to hold a farmers market.
"There is a nice tree line on the north end of that property so there is a place that will have a little shade, there is plenty of parking and it's easily accessible to everything," she said.
She did acknowledge, however, that the deal is not official as of yet.
"(City Council) approved the concept of allowing us to use the property, but it still has to go through the city attorney and through (the) Planning and Zoning Commission, so it's not a done deal," she said.
City Manager Bill Vance said the city is working through the details of the proposed agreement and he does not believe the site will conflict with the Violet Festival.