COLUMBIA - The numbers of customers and vendors at the Columbia Farmers' Market continue to rise every year, and as the numbers increase, plans for building a permanent structure for the market are developing.
At 7 p.m. Saturday, the market will kick off the public campaign for a permanent, covered and open-sided Farmers' Market Pavilion at its location behind the Activity and Recreation Center at Clinkscales Road and Ash Street.
WHAT: “Imagine the Farmers’ Market Pavilion” party
WHERE: Behind the Activity and Recreation Center at the corner of Clinkscales Road and Ash Street
WHEN: 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday
The idea for a permanent market structure dates back to the early 1990s, when the market moved from a covered pavilion at the original Boone County Fairgrounds, where the Activity and Recreation Center is now located. For several years, the market operated out of a parking lot, with no shelter from the elements. Then the city of Columbia purchased the old fairgrounds in 1995, allowing the market to operate on an open lot at the property.
In 2000, market and community members worked with an architect to develop plans for a permanent structure. Since then, Sustainable Farms & Communities, a non-profit group chartered in 1998 to lead an initial effort for the pavilion, has been working out the details with the Columbia Farmers' Market and the city of Columbia.
The capital campaign has raised $200,000 through private donations, said Dan Kuebler, Sustainable Farms & Communities chair. He said the estimated cost is more than $1 million, but construction could be completed in phases to keep costs down. Guy Clark, vice-chair of Sustainable Farms & Communities, said construction for the shelter could start as early as October 2009, the end of the next growing season, depending on the funds available.
"The plan may need revisions before it is finally built," Kuebler said. "But the needs addressed in this design work well for this piece of property."
The proposed design includes about 86 covered vendor stalls and space for 14 open-air stalls, he said. It also has restrooms, a meeting room, a certifiable kitchen, a covered patio, a playground and demonstration gardens. Water would be collected off of its rooftop for irrigation of the demonstration gardens and landscaping. In the future, Kuebler said there are plans to install solar panels and wind turbines as a demonstration model and an alternative power source for the pavilion.
"This is going to create a wonderful, dynamic public space for our community," Kuebler said. "It's such a multipurpose space, and it's a wonderful community asset in that respect."
When the market is not in session, the space would be available for meetings, weddings and other events.
The campaign kickoff on Saturday is intended to inform and involve community members in the vision. Small tents will be set up in the location of the proposed shelter and holiday lights will be strung to mark the footprint of the design . Starting at 7 p.m., community members can take a tour through the outline of the conceptual design.
"It brings us to be able to imagine what it will look like when it's done," said event coordinator Ginny Chadwick. "When we start imagining something like this, it really helps create that reality."
There will also be free food, prepared by local chefs and restaurants, local musicians and a showing of the documentary film "Tableland" at dusk.
"We'll really capture the essence of it on Saturday," Kuebler said. "We want people to come out and get a vision, an idea of what we're trying to do."