To the Camden Towns people, Select Board, and town staff:
The Camden Farmers Market is a democratically run organization of farmers and producers, around since 1974. 2022 is our 48th year! We are a supporting member of the Maine Federation of Farmers Markets. We are a collection of over 20 individual businesses that come together May-September to create a marketplace of locally produced goods for the community of Camden and the surrounding areas, as well as visitors and tourists. We love setting up in the current green space as it’s the perfect space for the community to gather.
Every week folks shop and have a chance to buy the season’s freshest, most nutritious, and beautiful range of products. Many socialize, listen to live music, grab some yummy treats, and sit with their friends in the beautiful greenspace, while children play, and dogs are walked. Many of our members have attended this market for many years consistently, bringing high quality goods that would not otherwise be available in the town of Camden.
We believe the market provides a vital contribution to what makes the town of Camden so special and a popular and desirable place to live and visit. The goods and services we provide and our commitment to community are a key part of our life’s work and that is why we wish our view on this issue to be part of the public record. We are writing to you to voice our concerns over the potential sale of Tannery Park.
Space and parking for vendors and customers
Our market members are all licensed by the State as Mobile Vendors. Most have vehicles, trucks, vans, and trailers that are integral to the way they do business with bulk produce, boxes, crates, seedlings, coolers, ice, refrigeration, tables, packaging, staging, etc.; all from their vehicles. All Maine farmers markets vend in this manner. The Camden Farmers Market needs over 20,000 square feet or about 1/2 acre of space for vendors, their setups and vehicles, as well as common space for shopping customers. This estimate does not include customer parking, which can exceed 70 cars at busy times. The Cranesport proposal does not appear to provide adequate parking for the market visitors, vendors, and tenants of his workshop proposal. The proposal, which envisions vendors using a central pavilion without vehicles, may not be a tenable one for most of our vendors.
We are also concerned that a project of this scope and detail would take years to complete. The current 22 businesses that are members of the market would face hardship weathering the interim period. The Cranesport vision does not support a public farmers market, but rather that of a private marketplace. If the Camden Farmers Market gets squeezed out of the green space we have used at Tannery Park, we may be squeezed out of Camden, as there is no other central site available.
Alternative sites, including some in neighboring towns, are now in discussion, as group fatigue from our annual location insecurity has overtaken the regular business of our meetings.
The Tannery site has naturally become an important gathering location on market days. We view our market as a proper commercial use of the site. We thank the town for generously leasing to us over the years and hope for many more to come. Please consider these facts in further deliberation on the future of this prime town location.
Thank you for your support.
Sincerely, The Camden Farmers Market