In response to your editorial headlined "Supporting the Local Farmers' Markets," we totally agree, 100%. However, we do question your description of them as offering "not only a place to congregate, listen to music, grab something to eat on site or something delectable to take home, they all offer a place to bond for neighbors, friends and strangers."
The outdoor Farmers' Market in Richmond is located in the Lowe's parking lot. In our opinion, this is not an ideal place to "congregate." Over the past few years when we have attended, we have not heard any music, nor grabbed something to eat on site. We have no complaints about the organic products we purchased to take home, but we did not bond with neighbors, friends or strangers. This simply is not an inviting setting, yet we do appreciate the fact that there is a Farmers' Market in Richmond.
Perhaps the Board of Directors of the Farmers' Market would consider moving the outdoor market from the Lowe's parking lot to Downtown Richmond. At the current location, three grocery stores: Aldi's, Wal-Mart and Kroger, each offering fresh produce, are all within walking distance to Lowe's. On the contrary, there is not one store in Downtown Richmond (much less three), where we can go to purchase a green pepper, a ripe tomato or a juicy peach!
Thousands of people live in Downtown Richmond. Many may choose to walk or bike to a Farmers' Market if it were near. Some residents do not have transportation to drive across town to purchase fresh food. Providing a market downtown offers healthy options, physically, nutritionally and environmentally. Patrons could truly bond with neighbors, friends and strangers; maybe grab a bite to eat on site or at the bakery, coffee shop or one of the restaurants downtown -- all in walking distance! Music could be featured on the courthouse steps and blankets could be spread on the lawn (much more comfortable than blacktop). Everyone could support the retail establishments downtown, a.k.a. "shop local!" And there is plenty of parking downtown!
While we do patronize Lowe's, Aldi's, Wal-Mart and Kroger, we would appreciate and celebrate the opportunity and convenience to walk downtown to purchase a fresh ear of corn, a head of lettuce or handmade jewelry or soap by a local artisan, all in our neighborhood without having to get into a car!
Support our Local Farmers' Market? Absolutely! But return it to its roots, the Courthouse Lawn environs, where goods were originally traded in the City of Richmond!
Gary and Jamie have lived in downtown Richmond for over 25 years and support local businesses.