Tuesday, April 19, 2011

TOP STORY >> Cabot Farmers Market prepares to open

Leader staff writer

The Cabot Farmers Market is about to start its fourth year, and organizers say it is shaping up to be the best one so far.

The market is affiliated with Cabot City Beautiful, Inc. A meeting for prospective vendors is set for 6 p.m. Sunday at the city community center.

“We had a fairly successful first year, great second year, a fantastic third and we’re looking forward to a bigger market this coming year,” Matt Webber, CCB president, said in recent press release. “Many growers, crafters, and artisans, right here in our area, have contacted me. They want to be a part of this great opportunity, for them to showcase and sell their products.”

The market will be open Saturdays in the parking lot of First Security Bank across from city hall from 8 a.m. until noon from May 7 until Oct. 29.

Webber said during an interview this week that the parking lot has room for about 20 vendors but the average last year was 10-11. What they want in vendors to fill those spaces is variety, he said: fresh produce, crafts and art. Musicians would also be a welcome addition.

A change in state law now makes it legal to sell home-made foods such as baked goods, jams and jellies at farmers markets, fundraisers and festivals providing they are labeled with ingredients and the name of the producer.

The new law does not exempt products with high-water content such as pickles and salsa or foods such as cream pies which can spoil without refrigeration from the ban on selling homemade foods, said Teresa Bulloch with the Arkansas Department of Health.

“A farmers market contributes to the social and economic welfare of a town and helps produce a strong sense of community identity together,” Webber said in his press release. “The farmers’ market will stand as a common ground were people can interact with local farmers and fellow residents of the community, as well as a local source of fresh produce.”

Although the intent of the market is to sell locally grown fruits and vegetables, Webber said May is a little early for most local produce. Vendors are allowed to sell produce from out of state as long as they make it clear to their customers that it is not local.

Eggs are allowed but only if the vendor has a refrigerator to keep them fresh, not an ice chest.

All vendors must be approved. If what you have to sell isn’t produce, some home-prepared foods, art or crafts, it’s not right for the farmers market, Webber said.

“(The First Security Bank) location provides great visibility and allows farmers and vendors to sell right off the back of their trucks, just like the days of yester-year,” Webber’s press release said.

“We are working to integrate many new ideas and giveaways into this year’s market. We want an atmosphere that is friendly and inviting.”

Anyone interested in participating should contact Webber at 501-920-2122.