Changes coming to farmers markets

Chad Frey
The Kansan
For the past few years there have been two farmers markets in Newton — and that is not going to change this spring and summer as the season inches ever-closer, despite actions take at the city commission on Feb. 9.

For the past few years there have been two farmers markets in Newton — and that is not going to change this spring and summer as the season inches ever closer, despite actions taken at the city commission Tuesday. 

The city commission approved an administrative policy stipulating that only one publicly owned property will be approved for use for farmers market per year, allowing use for up to two days each week. 

"We typically have a lot of groups that want to use public parking lots for events, especially on weekends" said Suzanne Loomis, director of public works for the city. "... (The commission) asked that any groups wanting to hold a farm and art market try and coexist at the same location on one piece of public property so we were not tying up multipe public properties because there are multiple groups that want to utilize these spaces for specific, big community events."

There is a policy difference between the two markets that came up during the reading of written comments from market organizers that has led to the markets operating at different locations — Newton Farm and Art Market, operated by Norm Oeding, allows pets (specifically, dogs) into its market while the Harvey County Farmers Market, operated by the extension office, does not. 

In recent years the Newton Farm and Art Market, has operated in a public parking lot at 121 E. Sixth St., behind the Fox Theatre and across the street from Grand Central. The Harvey County Farmers Market has operated in a public lot in the 300 block of Main, next to the "Old Dillons" building and skating rink. 

While the policy passed on Tuesday stipulates "Preferential treatment will be given to any group sponsored by an official agency such as the Harvey County Extension Office or K-State Extension services for use of a designated location," one of the markets would need to move away from public property under the policy. 

Scott Eckert, extension agent for the Harvey County Kansas State Research and Extension office, told The Kansan that city staff had contacted him about the policy — and that there might be a building razed on the site used by the KSRE this summer, making it unavailable. 

The KSRE market found a new location in a private parking lot. This spring and summer the market will operate essentially across the street, near the Breadbasket restaurant and Old Mill. 

That lot is a private lot, which means no application to the city is required.

Tuesday the city commission approved an application from Oeding's Newton Farm and Art Market to operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays through Dec. 31 in the lot at 121 E. Sixth, a private lot.