Berlin Farmers Market Changes Eyed

BERLIN –  The Berlin Farmers Market will expand down Commerce Street following a busy opening week.

Following strong interest and high attendance at last week’s event, the Berlin Farmers Market will be set up on Pitts Street and Commerce Street moving forward.  Ivy Wells, the town’s economic and community development director, says there will also be more vendors and more inventory.

“Last week was our first market of the year,” Wells said. “We’re definitely making some changes.”

Many shoppers who visited the market last week left disappointed, as vendors were sold out of nearly everything by 10 a.m. even though the market runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“It was the opening day of the market and a lot of the farmers weren’t sure how many people would be there,” Wells said.

Customers were eager to buy produce and baked goods, however. Wells said strawberries sold out in seven minutes. Baywater Farms sold out, drove back to the farm to get another truckload of produce and returned to the market to sell out again—all within two hours. Sconer sold close to 100 scones in an hour.

Because there were so many willing shoppers, some expressed concern about crowding on Pitts Street during a time when social distancing remains necessary. As a result, Wells said vendors were being spaced farther apart and extended onto Commerce Street. Though Main Street will remain open, market vendors will be set up along Commerce and Pitts Street. A handful of new food vendors, including some downtown restaurants, will also join the market.

The market will again open half an hour early for seniors.

“It’s a courtesy shopping time and not enforceable, but the majority of people honored that,” Wells said.

She acknowledged that she’d received a handful of complaints associated with last week’s market but said that’s why changes were being made this week.

“When you have that many people attending there’s going to be someone who finds something they didn’t like,” she said.

Wells stressed that face masks were mandatory. Shoppers are also asked to keep their visits short and to maintain a distance of six feet from other people. Wells wants the market to remain a place people look forward to doing their shopping.

“Farmers markets bring access to fresh, local produce,” Wells said. “It’s one of the healthiest things we can offer our community.”

She said the town welcomed feedback from attendees.

“The only way we’re ever going to improve anything is through feedback,” she said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.