South Portland council welcomes plan for Knightville farmers' market

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SOUTH PORTLAND — A farmers’ market is poised to take root in the Knightville neighborhood this summer.

Organizers’ vision for an outdoor market of locally sourced foods was welcomed by the City Council during a workshop on Monday night.

Cape Elizabeth farmers Penny and Caitlin Jordan outlined their plan to establish the market in Thomas Knight Park on the waterfront, next to the Casco Bay Bridge.

Penny Jordan, of Jordan’s Farm on Wells Road, said the “European-style” market would be open on Thursdays from 3-7 p.m. and would likely allow patrons to get a full meal’s worth of food, including vegetables, meats, cheeses and flowers.

Jordan said she hopes to involve other local businesses in the market, whether by having local restaurants feature products being sold at the market or by allowing businesses to have some presence at the market itself.

“It can help rejuvenate the area,” she said.

The duo acknowledged that parking on the peninsula may be an issue, but not an insurmountable one. Jordan said she expects that about 150 cars could visit the market in any half-hour period.

But Mayor Rosemarie De Angelis said city staff are willing to reroute buses and close off the western most portion of Waterman Drive.

De Angelis said Knightville residents should be prepared for additional traffic and parking on their residential streets.

“Nobody owns the spot in front of their house,” De Angelis noted.

Leah Lippman, of the Knightville Mill Creek Association, said residents are excited about the market and that people on Peaks Island and Cow Island have expressed interest in docking their boats at the park’s boat landing to access the market.

“We think bringing people down to the horn … will help bring more business to the businesses on Ocean Street as well as show people what a great neighborhood is there,” Lippman said. “I think since the new bridge has been put up, it’s been a real sleepy place.”

Councilors generally supported the plan and pushed the group to promote the market.

Jordan said the up to 20 vendors would be taking a risk. But the group hopes to differentiate itself from other markets by being open on Thursdays and offering educational events about food preparation and sourcing.

Jordan said the group considered Mill Creek Park, which is more visible, but was discouraged by parking issues and the presence of ducks.

“I think the farms are willing to take that risk, as long as the city is willing to work together to create that visibility,” she said. “Thomas Knight Park could be a wonderful location.

Caitlin Jordan, a Cape Elizabeth town councilor whose family owns Alewive’s Brook Farm on Old Ocean House Road, said she has helped establish similar markets in the past, including one in Scarborough.

The market would be managed by an advisory committee. Vendors would sign up for a one-year term and pay a $100 fee. The market committee would receive $75 and the city would get $25.

Since the proposal involves a changing a 2006 zoning ordinance that set restrictions on farmers’ markets, it must go before the Planning Board before returning to the council for two readings and public hearings.

The group hopes to open the market in late June.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @randybillings.

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