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Farmers' Market kicks off June 26 and

Will remain on Pleasant Street with new attributes

June 18, 2014
BERLIN – The second largest farmers' market in the state, next to Portsmouth, will kick off on Thursday, June 26, and it will remain on Pleasant Street.

The market started small with a handful of vendors a few years back and was set up on Mechanic Street. After substantial growth and a number of vendors added, the market was expanded to Pleasant Street. Recently, after much discussion and encouragement from the city to move to Main Street, a meeting was held at the WREN office where the public shared their thoughts. After careful consideration, the coordinators of the market decided to keep it on Pleasant Street.

"We outgrew that place (Mechanic Street)," said Laura Jamison, WREN Social Media Manager at Berlin Office and Market Coordinator.

On May 29 at 921 Main Street, office of WREN (Women's Rural Entrepreneurial Network), Marilinne Cooper, WREN's Executive Director, opened up the meeting announcing that 2014 marks the 20th year of WREN.

Before any discussion about Main Street, the fundamentals of the farmers' market were summarized. Cooper noted the many vendors who sell vegetables, produce and other foods, original arts and crafts, jewelry, and much more. She mentioned that the Berlin and Bethlehem markets are "open" and is more artisan based with fewer farmers.

However, many different food items are still sold and can now be purchased using EBT cards (food stamps). Laura Jamison explained how it will work: Buyers can exchange EBT dollars wooden nickels that can be used to buy food. The tokens cannot buy hot food, alcohol or cigarettes. Any tokens left over can be exchanged at the closing of the market day.

Next, the topic of discussion was whether or not to move the market to Main Street this year.

"It is worth a try to see how it goes. We are flexible enough to try it," said Jamison.

During the early part of May, a marketing consultant, Roger Brooks of Destination Development, and a contributor to the NH Grant Initiative, recommended that the city holds the farmers' market to Main Street. After a two week discussion, city officials supported and encouraged that idea. The plan was to start the market from Mechanic Street to city hall. After many issues and concerns were addressed, it was decided after the meeting that the market would remain on Pleasant Street. However, it is intended to be located closer to Bickford Place this year.

"As a result of community conversations regarding the move, we decided to stay on Pleasant Street," Jamison concluded in a separate interview.

In other news, WREN may have a new home in the future. The board has approved WREN to pursue the grant to buy the former Morning Lane Photography/Paul Charest building at 117 Main Street.

It would establish a "permanent home for WREN in Berlin with a visible and impactful presence," said Cooper.

In an effort to expand the maker series and small business classes, the space would be necessary. Plans are being made for a 3D printer and CNV machine, a state-of-the-art computer technology lab, access for WREN member and Berlin residents to technology spaces, classrooms for maker spaces, public access Wi-Fi, and possibly a space for an art gallery. Some of the maker spaces will provide classes to learn how to weave, knit, and make yarn, pottery and many other things.

Cooper said that the goal of WREN to utilize the building will "implement on-going entrepreneurial and technical assistance programs to help emerging small businesses."

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