Western Wake Farmers’ Market looking for a ‘forever’ home’ in Morrisville

aramos@newsobserver.comSeptember 14, 2013 

Tracy Lafleur, right, sells vegetables to Roseanne Forese of Cary at the Western Wake Farmers’ Market in 2011.

2011 NEWS & OBSERVER PHOTO

— On most Saturdays, the lawn of the Carpenter Village neighborhood in Cary transforms from an empty space into the bustling Western Wake Farmers’ Market, with 40 to 60 vendors selling everything from soap to fresh produce.

Come Sunday, all traces of the market disappear. It’s like the small tent city was never there.

Since 2009, the Western Wake Farmers’ Market has been setting up and breaking down the weekly food fair off of Morrisville Carpenter Road. Now the market’s board of directors is looking for a permanent home, maybe in Morrisville’s future downtown.

The market is asking the town to build a permanent site with a shelter similar to one in Durham. In return, the market would operate the site, said Jim Pellegrini, president of the market’s board.

The Morrisville Town Council recently agreed to ask town staff to look at possible sites and consider whether a permanent space for the market could be a viable option.

Carpenter Village developers have plans to eventually develop the site, Pellegrini said.

“We’re not in imminent danger of being displaced. We are being proactive,” he said. “We thought Morrisville would be good for a number of reasons. A lot of our customers think we are in Morrisville right now. Morrisville has this vision for downtown they want to create – seems sensible that a farmers market could be a part of that.”

Morrisville doesn’t have a downtown, but there are plans to create one on about 22 acres along Jeremiah and Church streets. Town leaders are in the process of trying to find a private entity willing to co-develop the project.

“We’d like to have a new place when we know it’s our forever home,” Pellegrini said. “With a permanent space, number one it signifies a home that people will see even when we’re not there. There are still many people who live in close proximity for five years and are seeing it for the first time.”

A permanent shelter would also provide better protection from inclement weather, and it would make another inviting space for the community, Pellegrini said. Restrooms are also on the wish list.

The Carpenter Village site is about a mile from Morrisville Town Hall. The market currently averages about 600 to 700 visitors every Saturday, Pellegrini said.

Three council members voiced concerns about requesting a staff report so soon, although they said they supported the market.

“I just don’t see why we had to fast-track this,” said Councilman Mark Stohlman. “It could require some significant financial, structural and land investment by the town. There are a lot of things waiting on staff attention. I don’t see why this jumps to the front of the line.”

Planning Director Ben Hitchings said it will take staff a few months to prepare a report to present to the council.

“We know there’s a growing interest in the state and region for people wanting to access healthier food,” Hitchings said.

Ramos: 919-460-2609

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