By Evan Brandt, The Mercury
POTTSTOWN >> Armed with lessons from its first year, plans for this summer’s downtown farmers market were outlined Wednesday.
Sheila Dugan, executive director of the Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority, gave the outline to borough council.
She said feedback about the first year’s effort was mostly positive, with most downtown businesses that responded to a survey reporting an increase in their business.
Additionally, six businesses stayed open later when the farm market was open in order to take advantage of more people being downtown, Dugan said.
But there was some valuable input about the first effort that will be used to improve the second, said Dugan.
Running the market from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. may be too long, Dugan said some customers and vendors said.
Some also said running the market from May through October was a bit mis-aligned because it opened when there was little produce to sell, but closed in October when some of the best produce was ready to bring to market.
So this year, Pottstown FARM, as it is officially named, will still be set up on Thursdays, but will open in June and continue until after Thanksgiving, allowing for customers to buy fresh produce for their holiday table.
The market will also now be open from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., a suggestion made by the vendors.
The location of the market will also change slightly. It is moving across the street and up onto the sidewalk.
Dugan said the south side of High Street gets more shade, something both the vendors and customers crave on hot summer afternoons.
It will also create more parking because the back-in diagonal parking on the north side of High Street has more spaces than the parallel parking on the south side.
The south side location also creates better visibility for vendors and banners alike, said Dugan.
Arrangements have also been made to allow customers to use their SNAP (food stamp) access cards to purchase food, meaning more healthy food will be available to low-income families in Pottstown.
A promotional program, aimed at children, will be called the “veggie of the week,” and will help encourage healthier eating by some of Pottstown’s younger residents, said Dugan.
Additional support is coming in the form of a $15,000 grant from the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation, which will help with further promotion as well.