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Messing With Market Would Be a Mistake 

Thank you for your article concerning the future of the Farmers' Market ("Future of Farmers' Market in Flux," Street Talk, Oct. 25). I was alarmed, saddened and disgusted upon reading it.

Disgusted by the apparent greed and lack of awareness on the part of the city, the developers and the local bar owners of the many people who come to the market every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. If the condos already surrounding the area aren't supplying the local bars with enough foot traffic, will one more set of condos help?

Also, being that many use the market space as parking in the evening, and parking is generally difficult in that area anyway, losing that parking won't exactly increase the foot traffic to the bars either.

Lastly, the "history" of the market is alive and well there every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. The market librarian has a wonderful oral and photographic "history" of the market. Perhaps Mr. Goulding would care to see that at some point.

I'm saddened that more people don't realize how important a vibrant farmers' market is to the community of a city, not to mention how important it is for the health and pockets of its citizens. Cheap, local and often organic produce is available to shoppers throughout the growing season, along with tips on preparing and eating many of these foods. It is a place to meet people, form communities and, most importantly these days, have a conversation with the people who grow the food we eat.

I'm alarmed at the possibility of losing this space to condos or an enclosed market space. I don't think we need another set of condos to revitalize the area or to fill another spot in the skyline. It seems to me that the biggest barrier to reviving the area, in terms of the market, is the market manager's inability to promote the market, to "place advertisements in local newspapers," and expand the market functions and services to help make the market and the whole area more visible and accessible to the community.

Anyone who has been to the market on a morning at the heart of the growing season can see how alive and energized it is. You can buy your coffee from one vendor, your pastry from another, watch the kids run around, the parents talk to each other, the businessmen and women come down from their offices to get a jump on the best tomatoes, pick up your favorite flowers, spot a lovely piece of jewelry or an outfit for your friend's new baby, get your week's worth of food from one of the CSA vendors, or pick out your own selection of the most beautiful, organic, local produce on hand. It's a thriving community and it breathes in its open space.

To enclose it into what is essentially the bottom of a parking deck below some condos undermines the spirit of the market, an outdoor, public space with fresh produce and fresh air, in the middle of the city. Like many others who love the 17th Street Farmers' Market, I want to fight to keep it urban and alive.

Melanie Snellings
Richmond

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