Pittsfield Township to Give Winter Farmer’s Market a Test Run

 12/10/2015 - 11:26

Pittsfield Township Farmer's Market manager Tina Lloyd makes her case for an indoor market over the winter at Morris Hall. The township board agreed to test it out for three months (February through April) on a one-day-a-month basis. The first market will be on the secon Thursday of February from 3-7 p.m. Photo by Jim Pruitt

The summer farmer’s market was such a hit in Pittsfield Township officials are going to give it a try over the winter.

The Board of Trustees approved a request from manager Tina Lloyd to host the market one day each month from February through April. The market will be located in Morris Hall.

“Vendors and guests are asking what’s next,” Lloyd said at a rare work session of the board. “We are looking at the idea of going indoors.”

She recommended the market be open from 3-7 p.m. the second Thursday of February, March and April. The market would return to its normal summer schedule in May.

“Kind of keep the season going, build some vendor loyalty,” Lloyd said. “Keep the momentum going.”

Patrons would enter through the main entrance on the south side of the administration building and meet a volunteer who would man a Welcome Table. The patrons would walk into the hall and see most of the vendors. A table in the hallway outside of Morris Hall would have a chef offering food samples.

Classes could be offered in the large conference room such as photography, money-savers or sessions for senior citizens.

“Overall it offers us a nice place to engage the community,” Lloyd said. “If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, but I am confident that it will.”

Trustee Gerald Krone expressed concern about what effect food samples could have on the newly carpeted floor. Lloyd said the floor could be covered with protective film could be applied and removed the day of the market.

Vendors could also provide rubber floor mats if their samples may be messy. Salsa will not be allowed, Lloyd said.

Trustees asked if there was another space that could be used instead of Morris Hall and Lloyd said she considered the Senior Center, but it already has a busy schedule and lacks adequate parking.

“We are looking at about 67 spaces compared to here about 137,” Lloyd said.

Vendors are very interested in a market, Lloyd said. A couple of farmers use hoop houses which can extend the growing season by 12 weeks at the start of the season, she said. These growers bring kale and other vegetables.

Others have cold storage produce such as apples and squash and still others have pasta, sauces and farm-fresh eggs.

“The vendors don’t have a lot of options in the winter so they are more than happy to join with a market,” Lloyd said.

The market will remain open on Thursdays for consistency and there are no other indoor markets to compete with Pittsfield’s. Although Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti are planning to construct an indoor market.

Lloyd said vendors would pay a fee of $10 to $15, whereas Ann Arbor charges $30. Trustees questioned if the fee was enough to cover costs, but the only workers would be Lloyd and a volunteer.

The market will use the metric of attendance to determine its popularity, Lloyd said.