Farmers market moves indoors at Maine Mall

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SOUTH PORTLAND — At least five vendors will be on hand Friday as the second iteration of a farmers market at Maine Mall opens at 2 p.m.

With a unanimous Planning Board decision Tuesday approving a special exception, the market will move indoors this year to the mall center where Santa Claus greets children in the holiday season.

“We are trying to make sure the mall consumer is getting that kind of access to local produce,” Maine Mall Marketing Director Stefanie Millette said Monday.

The market will open from 2-6 p.m. each Friday through September, with room for 10 to 15 vendors.

Five vendors, including Gorham-based Liv With Roz Farm, Maine Homestead Farm from Arundel and Up-Beet Farm from Porter, have each paid the city’s $25 license fee. City Licensing Administrator Jessica Hanscombe said Wednesday she is processing three more applications.

Vendors will also be assessed a $10 weekly fee at the mall, Millette said, and in return, get tables, chairs and coverings, as well as use of carts for hauling and access to a nearby loading dock.

Last year, the outdoor market operated near the corner of Gorham Road and Philbrook Avenue on Tuesdays.

“The farmers who were here last year who sold produce were very happy with the results,” she said.

Moving indoors with Friday hours will increase foot traffic and sales, Millette said.

Market fare will include produce, meats and dairy products, but not craft works that might already be available at mall tenants.

“They are selling things that go straight to the refrigerator or pantry,” Millette said.

The market will also features courses and workshops on cultivating and preparing produce, especially the early crops, she said.

The change in operating hours meant the loss of last year’s roster of vendors, but Millette said those who have signed on are not worried about getting their goods to the indoor market.

“There was actually a lot less apprehension when they saw where can be loading,” she said.

The indoor market also fills a niche in the corporate strategy for mall owners General Growth Properties.

“This is a part of a community component GGP tries to set up,” Millette said about the Chicago-based company that owns malls throughout the country.

The indoor market is the second opened this year in the city. An outdoor market operates on Hinckley Drive by Mill Creek Park from 3-7 p.m. each Thursday.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.