Originally created 09/14/03

Many approve of market move



Eric Johnson, his wife, Gia, and their daughter Mallory, 3, figured a Farmers Market trip would be a pleasant Saturday family outing.

But when they reached the downtown Augusta Common, where the market had been located for a couple of months, the park area was empty.

"We asked a policeman, and he told us where to go," said Mr. Johnson, a respiratory therapist assistant who moved his family to Martinez from Columbia.

The Richmond County deputy directed the Johnsons to a grassy area behind the former railroad depot at Reynolds and Sixth streets, where they saw a large tent and plenty of vendors.

The market opened Aug. 9 at Augusta Common and remained at the site until plans were announced last week to move to 10th Street between Reynolds and Broad streets because ofthe Border Bash college football game pep rally.

Amid controversy that the location change also was spurred by city officials who didn't want marketgoers and vendors damaging the grounds at the common, market organizers announced Thursday that the market would be moved to the old railroad depot.

Chris Naylor, the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority of Augusta and Main Street Augusta said his group hopes to permanently stay at the depot.

"If we can work out an agreement with the city, we'll stay here," Mr. Naylor said.

Staying in one place is less confusing to people, he said.

For vendor Rick Catts, the owner of Rick's Produce in Aiken, the switch from the Common meant less customer traffic Saturday, but he sees a brighter side.

"There were less people here because many of them didn't know where we were. With more advertising, I feel it'll really pick up," he said while putting squash, corn and tomatoes into plastic bags for customers.

Parking near the depot was plentiful and safe for customers, Mr. Catts said.

Mr. Naylor said the depot site offers a greater opportunity to expand because the inside of the building could be used. Along with selling produce and flowers, the market could later provide seafood and arts and crafts, he said.

"According to our customers, this is a good move," Mr. Naylor said.

IF YOU GO

The Farmers Market continues each Saturday through Oct. 25. The market is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or tim.cox@augustachronicle.com.