Farmers’ market making a return in Millsboro

MILLSBORO — Seeds have been planted for the return of a town-supported farmers’ market in Millsboro.

Council members Tim Hodges, Larry Gum, Jim Kells, Ron O’Neal and John Thoroughgood backed the proposed three-month weekend initiative presented by Millsboro Mayor Michelle Truitt during council’s Monday teleconference meeting. Councilman Bradley Cordrey was unable to take part in the meeting.

“I say nothing ventured, nothing gained,” said Mr. Thoroughgood. “I would motion to go ahead with it. We had it before, and it didn’t work out. Things change.”

“The town is not making money off this,” Mayor Truitt said, noting the town’s intent is “to provide a service for the residents.”

As approved, the outdoor farmers’ market would be based at the Millsboro Town Center, running Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon during June, July and August – and possibly longer upon evaluation.

It will operate under strict guidelines and protocol announced in mid-May by Delaware’s Department of Agriculture in collaboration with the statewide Delaware Farmers’ Market Coalition, Office of the Governor and Delaware Division of Public Health.

Farmers’ markets were authorized to open May 15.

Millsboro’s first market is set for Saturday, June 13.

“I will be there on those Saturdays,” Mayor Truitt said.

According to Mayor Truitt, four markets she contacted are “excited and want to come” and she is waiting to hear from about a half dozen others. The hope is for vendor variety, offering traditional produce, including seasonal vegetables and fruits, baked goods, fresh seafood, fresh meat, hydroponic produce, roasted coffee beans, flowers, honey and maybe bottled wine produced locally.

Mayor Truitt said the aim is “keeping it around 10 vendors … nothing big.”

Millsboro Town Manager Sheldon Hudson said the focus is on vendors from primarily the central Delmarva area and “trying to keep it local.”

In place until further notice, Department of Agriculture protocols are intended to allow farmers to sell produce, specialty crops and other value-added food items directly grown, raised on a farm or prepared in a permitted on-farm kitchen or cottage-food kitchen.

Under DDA guidelines, social gatherings, which include entertainment, shows or activities are not allowed. Prepared food for consumption on site and on-site food preparation or sampling are also prohibited.

“I would hope that we make it clear that this is not a flea market,” said councilman Jim Kells.

Mayor Truitt said a flea market was never the intention. “This is a lot of work on my part to put it together. So, if you don’t want to do it, I certainly understand, and I can simply tell them ‘no we are not interested,’” said Mayor Truitt.

Within the past decade, the farmers’ market was held in Millsboro for several years at several locations, including across from the U.S. Post Office in the grassy area by the Dairy Queen, Mr. Thoroughgood said.

Attorney Mary Schrider-Fox, the town’s solicitor, emphasized that participating vendors “are going to have to be at least somewhat organized amongst themselves in order to satisfy all of those COVID guidelines and make the space work the right way for the new normal, at least as of right now.”

Mayor Truitt said the plan for 2020 is to keep the market under control so that it doesn’t get too large and is manageable and operates in adherence to state regulations.

Vendors participating in Millsboro are required to have a business license through the town and proof of liability insurance.

“We’re certainly hopeful that the event will go well, and people will take advantage of the opportunity to be outside and enjoy some fresh air and some goods from some local vendors and farmers,” said Mr. Hudson. “The goal is to keep it as streamlined and straightforward and as simple as possible.