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Room to grow

Brattleboro Area Farmers’ Market gets USDA grant for land purchase

BRATTLEBORO—With opening day less than three weeks away, the Brattleboro Area Farmers’ Market got some good news on the eve of its 2014 season.

It found out last week that it had been awarded a $6,300 U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development grant to purchase a two-acre lot adjacent to Route 9 that is long associated with the market.

The market, which is four decades old, has been working to secure the Route 9 location for more than 15 years. Until very recently the market has been leasing its vending space from three separate landlords, including Green Mountain Power, which owns the two-acre lot that comprises most of the main market area.

“We’re just weeks away from closing on the GMP parcel,” said Market Manager Martha Miller during the market’s annual clean-up day on Saturday. “Once we do that, we’ll have two of the three properties we use under our ownership.”

In 2013, GMP offered to sell its portion of the parcel, which includes about a third of the parking area and the heart of market. Along with the market’s recent purchase of the former Planet gas station on Western Avenue, it is closer to finally owning most of the land that the market now sits on by the Whetstone Brook.

The third parcel, the main parking area fronting Western Avenue, is owned by Jonathan Chase. The Farmers’ Market has leased the land from Chase, but the parcel also contains a house which is not part of the market’s lease.

Although the market has attempted to purchase the parking lot area, the two parties have yet to settle on a price.

The Farmers’ Market purchased the Creamery Lot, near the covered bridge, a few years ago — which added much-needed parking — and improved the lot using a USDA Rural Development Business Enterprise Grant.

The grant was awarded through USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities program, a Farm Bill-authorized program that aims to ensure rural communities have access to essential community facilities.

Miller said the Farmers’ Market board is looking at plans to reuse the former gas station and to maximize parking.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #250 (Wednesday, April 16, 2014). This story appeared on page A1.

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