At the corner of Rowan Street and Bragg Boulevard, a multifaceted “international” farmers market — complete with indoor and outdoor amenities and a wide array of vendors — could one day serve as a gateway to downtown Fayetteville through the Murchison Road corridor.
Cumberland County and Fayetteville leaders hope to partner on the proposed market space, which will be located on city-owned property. On Jan. 31, the Fayetteville City Council voted to partner with the county on the project, as the city already had plans to use the area for a “makerspace,” a similar concept including outdoor artist workshops and a market area. Michael Gibson, Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation director, said the city had already begun to make improvements on the building at the site.
Last fall, Cumberland County Commissioner Jimmy Keefe presented a proposal to fellow commissioners for the international farmer’s market. The market is estimated to cost upwards of $15 million, Keefe said at a Nov. 9 Cumberland County Board of Commissioners meeting. He said he envisions the venue would have multiple uses, hosting fresh produce stands, pop-up and permanent vendors, a beer garden, entertainment and education areas, a picnic area and a splash pad.
At the council’s Jan. 31 meeting, Council Member Kathy Jensen said the city has been working on its makerspace project at the current proposed farmer’s market site for more than four years. The county’s investment in the farmer’s market — with the county hoping to use funds from grants and its American Rescue Plan Act funds to help finance the project — makes the collaboration a positive development, she said.
“It is a win-win collaboration on everything,” Jensen said. “So we started out the conversation, they saw it. They said, ‘We can come in and be part of it.’ So I just wanted everybody to realize that this is not something that just happened … The city and the county are collaborating and trying very hard to make amenities and quality of life for us a lot better.”
The market’s announcement comes as Fayetteville continues its efforts to revitalize the Murchison Road corridor, including major investment in the Murchison Choice Neighborhood plan, and a concept plan to improve neighborhood connections to Mazarick Park, located on Belvedere Avenue and adjoining Glenville Lake. The market would also be across the street from the city’s “Catalyst 1” site, a 15-acre site the city acquired as part of its efforts to redevelop the area. The city is partnering with Fayetteville State University to develop student housing at the site.
Mayor Mitch Colvin said the city-county partnership on the international farmer’s market indicates it’s a “great time for investment in our city.”
Commissioner Jimmy Keefe also emphasized the importance of having a farmer’s market in the Murchison Road neighborhood, which is currently without a grocery store and considered a “food desert.”
“You can't expect a young child to know how to eat healthy if their parents don't know how to cook healthy or prepare food healthy, and I hope that this provides that bridge to allow people to become more healthy, live longer and enjoy their life,” Keefe said.
Keefe also emphasized the importance of the two local governments collaborating on the project.
“This is a city-county partnership,” Keefe said. “We recognize that the health in our community could use some work, and we recognize that people want quality-of-life things in our community.”
“It helps with education,” he continued. “It helps the health of the community, it helps connectivity and it helps quality-of-life, and finally it gives more opportunities.”
Contact Evey Weisblat at email@example.com or 216-527-3608.
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