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Second downtown farm market to open Friday

Jason Singer • Jun 2, 2010 at 1:48 AM

What a delicious idea.

Erie Fresh, a nonprofit organization dedicated to local food and sustainable practices, will begin a Friday afternoon Sandusky Farmers' Market in the Jackson Street parking lot behind Crush Winebar and Peddler's Alley.

It will be the second downtown farm market.

Joshua Pribanic and Lauren Berlekamp, the founders of Erie Fresh, said the market will appeal to a different demographic than the Saturday morning market operated by the Sandusky Main Street Association.

"A lot of people who work during the week like to sleep in Saturday mornings," said Berlekamp, who counted herself as part of that demographic. "This gives them a chance to get their food on their way home from work on Fridays."

Erie Fresh's goal is to increase downtown jobs, the duo said. Pribanic and Berlekamp will invest the money made from the market's lot fees into a permanent downtown location for local farmers to sell their products.

"It's all about growing the downtown and the local economy," Pribanic said.

Several downtown restaurants expressed excitement about the new market, including Zinc Brasserie, Crush Winebar, Mr. Smith's Coffee House and the Water Street Bar & Grille.

Cesar Avallone, chef and owner of Zinc and Crush Winebar, said he will use the weekly variety from the market to provide a wide range of summer specials.

"We've always made an effort to feature fresh produce from local growers on our menu," Avallone said. "In creating an atmosphere that downtown Sandusky can truly be proud of, supporting the farmers' market with our own businesses makes perfect sense."

Not everyone is enamored with certain aspects of the new farm market.

Ali Thompson, who operates the Sandusky Main Street Association's Sandusky Farmer's Market, wrote an e-mail to customers and vendors earlier this week asking how to "combat this issue." The two markets have similar names, except an apostrophe in different locations.

"This name is confusing and misleading," Thompson wrote. "Our fear is that through the advertising of their market, many of our vendors and customers will be confused (it is already happening). Main Street is working on this problem and we will try to find a solution as soon as possible."

Originally, Berlekamp and Pribanic, who helped with the Saturday morning market last year, wanted to take over that market because Thompson was leaving town.

They offered to pay Main Street upfront whatever money it makes in lot fees, so Main Street wouldn't lose that income, Pribanic said.

But Main Street and Erie Fresh couldn't come to an agreement, so Erie Fresh started its own. Thompson recently decided to drive into Sandusky on Saturdays to continue managing the market.

In a news release, Berlekamp and Pribanic encouraged farmers to use both markets.

"If you would like to do both -- then the more opportunity for you to move your product, the better," they wrote.

John Lippus, executive director of the Sandusky Main Street Association, supported Erie Fresh's venture.

"We encourage business development and something that will bring people downtown, especially on Friday night, that's great," Lippus said. "We wish them the best of luck."

When: 3-6 p.m. Fridays June 4 through Oct. 29.

Where: Jackson Street parking lot, behind Peddler's Alley and Crush Winebar

- For information, visit the website sanduskyfarmersmarket.wordpress.com

- Interested growers and vendors should contact Joshua Pribanic at 419-508-8779.

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