Every summer for 23 years, the Peach Lady, her peaches, her cantaloupes and her watermelon have shown up wherever the sign said Lexington Farmers Market.
This year, despite plans that will have the traditional Saturday market site probably be CentrePointe construction central, the Peach Lady, Mary Tyler, says she will persevere.
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The Lexington Farmers Market board isn't set to meet until Tuesday. But the plan so far, said market manager Jeff Dabbelt, is to stay put until they have to move, and then ”move up the street to Upper and Mill, which is already part of the farmers market designation, as necessary.“
Dabbelt added that CentrePointe developer Dudley Webb also has given the OK for the vendors to wrap their tents and produce wagons around the base of the World Trade Center. The market board then may seek temporary Saturday morning closure of Mill Street, says Dabbelt.
”The point to make here,“ he stressed, ”is that CentrePointe is not displacing us. We have been looking for a permanent downtown home for a while and we have a broader vision. We have been looking for several years about how to achieve that.“
In the noon rush at the Thursday Farmers Market on Maxwell Street, there already is some nostalgia.
Farmers like Charlie Hendricks of Three Toad Farm talked about how much it matters that customers find the marketing experience pleasant, like they do now on Vine Street with its wide shady walkways and easy parking.
But nostalgia was not everyone's mood du jour.
Wayne Masterman, owner of Portofino downtown, Serafini in Frankfort and Summit on Duval Street, said he shops the Vine Street market for his own home kitchen and for his restaurants. He's lived downtown for 25 years. He thinks people find farmers markets anywhere.
”There's nothing special about the location,“ he said.
Besides, he likes the idea of a new building bringing in 1,000 jobs, not 30.
The talk of westward movement of the farmers market prompted a little righteous anger, too.
”There are horses in this county who live better than us,“ said farmer Steve Shepperson of Parksville. ”If it rains, we're out of luck. If it's too hot or too cold, we're out of luck and nobody comes. We got no electricity and plastic outhouses.
”We have a lot of good supporters but we seem to be overlooked. A covered facility would be nice so people could come in and buy fresh produce in a nice environment.“
Then, there was the Peach Lady.
Tyler, the veteran vendor of sweet fruits, said, ”We'll be sad to leave but we'll accept what comes along. I have faith people can find us.“