City farmers market returning to familiar site

By Tom Joyce -

The Mount Airy Farmers Market soon will be returning to a former location due to action by city officials.

Its “new” home is actually the market’s old home: the parking lot beside the Mount Airy Post Office at 111 S. Main St. across from the Municipal Building, where its 2018 season will be launched in April.

The city farmers market offering fresh produce and other items had operated at that location until the lot was closed in January 2014 by the U.S. Postal Service. Its surface had deteriorated, leading to potholes and other defects that prompted the closure to the public to avoid possible injury and liability issues.

This forced the Mount Airy Farmers Market to move to a new location, the parking lot of Mill Creek General Store on West Pine Street, where it has remained since.

Due to a need for general public parking spaces provided at the former site in addition to accommodating postal patrons, city officials sought unsuccessfully to buy and upgrade the 32,000-square-foot lot from the U.S. Postal Service.

This led to Mount Airy entering into a lease agreement with that agency under which the municipality repaved and made other improvements to the lot costing around $70,000. That pact also is allowing the city government to lease it for $1 per year.

Under the license agreement, Mount Airy officials have the authority to contract with private or non-profit organizations for the purposes of operating a farmers market there.

They exercised that authority during a meeting last Thursday, when the city board of commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding between the municipality and an entity known as Surry County Farmers Market Inc. It runs the yearly market in Mount Airy.

The market is scheduled to open at its former locale beside the post office on April 20 and operate on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Oct. 19.

More space welcomed

A member of the governing board for the Surry County Farmers Market said Monday that organizers are happy about being able to return the Mount Airy market to its familiar confines.

“It’s a bigger facility for us,” said Jennifer Anderson, who serves as secretary of the board.

“Our market has really grown,” Anderson said of its increasing prominence at a time when more local consumers are desiring healthier food options from sources close to home.

This created a down side that strained the limited space at the Mill Creek General Store location.

“We were filling that parking lot up — there wasn’t anywhere for our customers to park and their customers to park,” Anderson said of the farmers market and business.

This shouldn’t be the case with the lot beside the post office. “It will give us ample room,” Anderson said. “It is more spacious.”

The agreement calls for the Surry County Farmers Market to cooperate with the city to implement any shared parking arrangements to avoid “unreasonably” inferring with post office operations on days the market is open.

By Tom Joyce

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.