The College Park City Council will likely vote next week on a resolution that would form a committee to manage and grow the downtown farmers’ market.
Councilwoman Stephanie Stullich (Dist. 3) said at Wednesday’s work session with mayor and council that she and her constituents were interested in growing the downtown market and diversifying the products and produce sold there. They’d also like to see a greater emphasis on locally grown produce, she said.
Brad Miller of Miller Farms, in Clinton, who currently coordinates the market, said he supports the idea of a city-appointed market committee.
“Whatever we can do to make this market as good as it can be is a good idea,” he said at Wednesday’s meeting.
The downtown market began in 2011, held on Sundays in the City Hall parking lot—an extension of the Saturday market held near the Ellen Linson Swimming Pool on Paint Branch Parkway. Miller’s father, Phil Miller, has managed the Saturday market on and off since 1979, he said. If the committee is approved, it would not impact the Saturday market, council members said.
The younger Miller will continue to manage the downtown market this summer.
Miller and fellow vendor Bill Coleman said at Wednesday’s meeting that they’ve been reaching out to other farmers and businesses to add to the core of five vendors who sold at last year’s market. They’ve also been advertising the Sunday market to University of Maryland students.
Coleman, who sells barbecue and salmon meals in the city hall lot on Sundays, said that most of the students who visited last year live in the Old Town neighborhood and the nearby fraternity and sorority houses.
He said he plans to distribute flyers at the Stamp Student Union to attract on-campus students as well.
Student Liaison John Natalizio, who bridges communication between the council and the UMd. Student Government Association said there is major potential to attract freshmen and sophomores who live at the northern end of campus.
“A lot of them don’t know there is a market,” he said.
Students who grow food could also sell their produce on Sundays, Miller said.
Councilman Patrick Wojahn (Dist. 1) said that he hopes Miller will be involved with the committee, either in a formal role or by serving as a constant contact.
“I think your experience would be useful in forming this committee,” Wojahn said.
The city’s planning director Terry Schum suggested appointing a downtown business owner to be a part of the commission as well, to explore ways in which the market can attract patrons to other downtown establishments.
Stullich drafted the resolution, which accompanies this story, based in part on examples set by neighboring markets. The Takoma Park, Riverdale Park and Greenbelt markets are all managed by committees, according to a report by the city’s planning department.
College Park’s committee would consist of, at most seven members, appointed by the mayor and council, who serve for three-year terms, according to the draft resolution. The committee would be charged with developing recommendations for structuring and managing the market, recruiting vendors and orchestrating a marketing campaign to draw more visitors.
The Sunday farmers' market began April 1, and the Saturday market is set to begin May 5.