published Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Vendor guidelines in works for Farmers Market North in Cleveland, Tenn.

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CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Now that the pavilion has been built for Farmers Market North on Urbane Road, officials are focusing on actually operating Cleveland's third produce market.

The Bradley County Commission's Building and Land Committee met this week with local growers to establish policies and procedures for governing the market.

"If you're going to put bylaws in and you're going to put any types of situations in [the market policies], I think you'll need to take it to the commission to get it voted on," said Commissioner Jeff Yarber, chairman of the committee. "It's the safe road."

Commissioners agreed to complete operational guidelines by early April, if possible, to accommodate grower concerns for selling early spring produce.

The Building and Land Committee recommended the formation of a managing committee comprising three produce vendors and two county commissioners to oversee rules for Farmers Market North.

County Commissioners Robert Rominger and Connie Wilson agreed to serve on the committee with vendors Billy Orr, Gloria Hayes and Jeff Shadden.

Yarber suggested the market's managing committee be a full-fledged committee instead of serving as a subcommittee of the Building and Land Committee.

Vendor ground rules discussed by producers and commissioners included the stipulation that Bradley County produce vendors be given priority over out-of-county sellers. Anyone allowed to sell produce at the market must have a signed agreement approved by the market's managing committee.

A key feature of the vendor agreements is that sellers must display a disclaimer for all produce that is not grown locally. Such disclaimers must state where the produce was grown.

Vendors and commissioners also reviewed whether to allow vendors to sell cooked goods in the market's parking lot.

Yarber urged caution, warning the managing committee might "open a can of worms" by not placing some restrictions on what sort of kitchen-style vendors sell goods in the market lot.

Wilson recommended vendor agreements be renewed annually so that all parties are reminded of market policies.

Vendors suggested Farmers Market North be open during daylight hours, Monday through Saturday, from April through November.

Orr said daily operations would allow sellers to bring fresher produce than if they had to wait for alternating days.

Bradley County Parks and Recreation will handle maintenance for the market, county Mayor D. Gary Davis said. He said the department would not be involved in managing operations.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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