Perhaps one of the most important indicators for a community to use in measuring the vitality of their downtown is the health of its farmers’ market. It certainly may be a matter of concern if those important weekly town gatherings are anemic given their popularity across the country. Or, as is the case of Centreville’s Sunday market, it is something to celebrate if growth trends show significant progress.
That was the case when Jennifer Moore, who helps run the weekly event, reported to the Centreville Town Council that were excellent signs that the relatively new town market was meeting or even exceeding expectations in terms of growth in both vendors and customers.
A significant contributor to this growth is the introduction of the “Family Day” initiative on the last Sunday of each month, beginning in July. This event specifically catered to children by offering experiences like face painting and the opportunity to purchase smaller portions of fruits.
That strategy seems to have paid off. The first Family Day saw the market attendance nearly triple, with vendors reporting sales to as many as 3,500 customers. To accommodate the growing number of vendors, the market introduced flexible participation slots. Vendors can now sign up for full-time, part-time, or “drop-in” slots.
The market also is exploring a variety of events to attract more diverse crowds, from live music to partnering with local artists like the Choptank Legacy Project, which specializes in children’s arts. Future plans include “Pets in the Park” and collaborating with Church Hill Theatre for a presentation on the town Green.
Another achievement has been partnering with the health department and the University of Maryland to offer WIC and SNAP benefits at the market. The inclusion of SNAP, however, requires on-site personnel, which they aim to address by next season.
The Centreville Farmers’ Market operates on Sundays from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM on Lawyers Row, Downtown Centreville until November 12th