The Farmers Market at Imperial opened Jan. 13 outside the Imperial Park Recreation Center after moving from the pavilion at the Imperial Sugar refinery to make way for development.
Keri Van Cantfort, manager of the farmers market, said although the relocation has been an adjustment because many vendors have had to invest in pop-up tents, the experience has been largely positive.
“We’re grateful the recreation center is lending their space to us,” Van Cantfort said. “It’s a good relationship to develop with the community.”
Officials with the farmers market announced in November the weekly event would close to make way for Imperial Market developments. Sugar Land City Council unanimously approved a proposal for the market to temporarily relocate to the Imperial Park Recreation Center during a meeting held Jan. 2.
The farmers market, which was originally meant to last about six weeks, has been a weekly event since Oct. 1, 2011, said Kimberly Terrell, assistant director of parks and recreation.
The market is still run by the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and approximately 45 vendor spaces are available, which is comparable to the market’s original size.
Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce President Keri Schmidt said the expectation is to continue holding the farmers market at the recreation center until development at Imperial Market is completed.
“I think it’s just going to be an ideal solution, so we’re really, really pleased,” Schmidt said. “I think the vendors were happy. We’re glad to have it all resolved and settled. We feel good about the future at this point.”
Looking ahead, the long-term plan for the market is to settle back into Imperial Market, Sugar Land City Planner Douglas Schomburg said. A potential option is to permanently relocate the market to the corridor in front of the three-bay warehouse once construction is complete at Imperial Market, Schomburg said.
Glass art vendor Colleen Hammack, owner of 2 Goose Studio, has been part of the Farmers Market at Imperial since it opened in October 2011. Hammack said she is pleased with the new location.
“It looks like we’ve been able to spread out a little bit,” she said. “We’ve got a really great core of vendors that have been long-time members of the market at the other facility ... This is more of a tighter knit group of people [than other markets] and has a great selection of things.”
James and Clodia Jett, owners of Big Creek Farms, have been selling honey and beeswax products at the farmers market for over six years, Clodia said.
“Most farmers markets are outside, not under pavilions like we were,” James said. “It was nice. We appreciated it. Now, it’s time for a change.”
Clodia said the relocation is a positive transition.
Many of the vendors are retired or rely largely on the farmers market to grow their businesses, Van Cantfort said.
Lee Rowell, owner of Exotics Plants & Treasures, sold her store a year ago, and the farmers market gives her the opportunity to share her business, she said.
“The farmers market is my lifeline to get to see people [and] share the plants and my knowledge with people,” she said. “I love [the new location]. I like being in the center where I can really say hello to everybody."