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SoBo Farmers Market receives tobacco grant for expansion

The South Boston Farmers Market is the recipient of a tobacco commission grant in the amount of $78,825, according to Tamyra Vest, Destination Downtown South Boston executive director. The grant funds will be used to expand the current farmers market.

“We received the amount we requested in the grant application,” Vest said. “The farmers market currently has only 12 spaces, and we’ve needed more space for several years.

Vest said the South Boston Farmers Market has 34 vendors with permits. “Not all 34 show up at the same time,” she said. “But when more than 12 are there some have to set up under tents or not under any type of structure at all.”

Vest said plans call for expanding the farmers market shelter below the current shelter that was built in 1991. “The South Boston Farmers Market is open every day during the season, and the vendors come whenever they have enough produce to sell,” she explained. “In addition to the structure, we plan to build a restroom facility at the site, complete with men’s and ladies’ restrooms.”
Additional plans call for equipment and site improvement, the downtown director said. “We currently have six produce tables, and we plan to double that number,” she explained. “The funds also will be used for electric service, signage and water and sewer.”

Vest said one of the representatives on the tobacco commission said the commission thinks the South Boston Farmers Market is one of the best in the state because of its data tracking.

“We give forms to all vendors and ask them to report what they sold at the farmers market and the amount,” she said. “At the end of the season, we tally the forms and determine the total amounts of produce and other products each vendor sold. They (tobacco commission) said ours is a very organized-run market.”

Vest said they would like to have the construction completed by the opening of the 2011 season. “Our grand opening is usually in June, but the market actually opens in April or May,” she explained.

The downtown manager said the South Boston Farmers Market also has applied for a $25,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture. “But we haven’t heard from that one yet,” Vest explained.