Dual Northfield Farmers Markets Dueling
Seasonal farmers markets will soon begin sprouting up around Vermont. Among them will be the Northfield Farmers Market, which has been held Tuesday afternoons at the Northfield Village Common since 2007. But this year the Northfield Village Common will also be home to a second farmers market, held on Monday afternoons. The new market will be called Friendly Farms Market, but the relationship between market organizers is far from cordial.
The issue of dueling farmers markets first came before the Northfield Village Board of Trustees at its April 9 meeting. Northfield Farmers Market founder Verne DuClos requested the use of the Village Common on Monday afternoons for his new Friendly Farms Market. Meeting minutes show DuClos said a group of vendors that ran a monthly indoor market over the winter have taken over the traditional Tuesday market via a "hostile takeover."
Mr. DuClos stated that the group organizing the winter market has now completed what he called a “hostile takeover” of the Northfield Farmers Market with intentions that he felt undermined his original concept of an uncomplicated farmers market that was both vendor and customer friendly.
In a joint meeting of the Northfield Select Board and the Village Trustees on April 23, Charles Morse, the new organizer of the Northfield Farmers Market, took issue with DuClos' claim.
Mr. Morse disputed this characterization, stating that the decisions that led to new NFM leadership had been in full compliance with its bylaws.
Both market vendors and municipal officials questioned whether Northfield could support two markets, but both have been authorized nonetheless.
There then were some concerns expressed by some NFM vendors about the confusion that will be generated by having two (2) separate authorized farmers markets, liability issues that may come out of this situation, etc. Chair Beal is unsure whether Northfield can support two (2) farmers markets but he did not feel the Boards should take sides. We will have to see how this plays out this summer and revisit next spring.
Both markets are scheduled to open mid-May and run through the fall. It's likely both markets will need to relocate for the end of the season, as work on the Village Common is scheduled to start mid-September.