Rutland year-round farmer’s market a success

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(Host) Rutland is one of just a few communities in Vermont to have a year-round farmers’ market.

The city’s indoor winter market debuted in November and, as VPR’s Nina Keck reports, local organizers are thrilled with its success.

(Sound of farmers’ market)

(Keck) The old Strand Theater in downtown Rutland is easy to miss. But once you walk in, the soaring 50-foot ceiling, expansive space and bustling crowds are impressive.

(Asch) "This is a particularly good day."

(Keck) Devon Asch and fellow vendor Gretchen Wetzel watch a steady stream of people walk past their display table.

(Asch) "You know, they were shearing sheep in here a couple weeks ago. There’s always something new.”

(Wetzel) "I counted 100 shoppers around 11 o’clock today. And they all seemed like they were filling their baskets. It’s really impressive how many people are showing up."

(Keck) Asch and Wetzel operate the Filthy Farm Girl Soap Company in Middletown Springs.

(Asch) "We make all-natural handmade soaps from essential oils, herbs and spices. And we have 39 flavors. We make a new flavor every week.

(Keck) Like Cheeky Ginger Citrus, Loopy Lavender, Coffee Vanilla Vixen. And the recent crowd favorite, Frisky Eucalyptus.

(Asch) "Yes, Frisky eucalyptus. It’s a diagonal slice of a peppermint petutti soap, then a clear diagonal slice of eucalyptus soap, which really opens your lungs in the morning. It’s been really popular in the winter time."

(Keck) Don’t need soap? There are lots of other things to choose from, like pottery, breads, pies, winter root vegetables, eggs, meats, jewelry and live music.

(Sound of guitar performance)

(Keck) That’s Jim Sabataso on guitar.

There are homemade jams, salsas and chutneys, woolen crafts, honey, syrup, locally produced wine, artisan cheeses and tasty things to put cheese on.

(Lamy) "I’m Whitney Lamy and I’m selling homemade crackers, called Castleton Crackers, because I bake them right out of my kitchen in Castleton, where I live. And I have three flavors – Windham Wheat, Middlebury Maple and Rutland Rye."

(Keck) Rutland resident Susie Cagle samples a cracker as she walks by. Cagle says shopping at the farmers’ market makes her feel good.

(Cagle) "To know the vendors and to talk to them and see people you know here and to know you’re eating healthy and you’re getting all good stuff."

(Keck) Greg Cox stands behind a long table of potatoes and winter vegetables. Besides running a family farm, Cox is the interim manager for Rutland’s winter market. He says even with the cold weather, they see several hundred visitors every Saturday.

(Cox) "We’re on track to inject dollars into the local economy that are approaching a quarter of a million dollars – that’s $250,000. That’s a huge amount of money. And what I like is all of these vendors are local. And so we turn around and spend our money local so the dollars get to be circulated within a closed community."

(Keck) Cox says other businesses are benefiting as well. The local natural foods co-op, which is at the entrance to the farmers’ market, has seen its Saturday business double. Local restaurants have also seen a Saturday surge.

And the West Rutland farmer says it’s just the beginning. Organizers plan to continue renovations on the theater and expand the market as much as possible.

For VPR News, I’m Nina Keck in Rutland.

Note: Rutland’s Winter Farmers’ Market, is held Saturdays from 10-3 inside the Old Strand Theater in downtown Rutland.

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