EUGENE, Ore. — Starting April 3, the Lane County Farmers Market is moving to a temporary space a few blocks from its historic location while constructing a new long-term venue that will eventually allow the market to double or triple its space for vendors.
"The new space is actually going to be pretty neat," said Meghan Verberkmoes, spokeswoman for Lane County Farmers Market. "We'll have a kind of pavilion, a covered structure, indoor-outdoor space."
The existing market, which has been running since the 1970s, can hold about 60 to 65 farm booths. The new market, Verberkmoes estimated, will be able to hold at least 120 booths.
In a typical pre-COVID year, Verberkmoes said Lane County Farmers Market has often had to turn away many new farm vendors in favor of farmers with seniority. With the new space, she said, the market will have room to welcome more small farms to set up booths.
"There's definitely demand," she said. "More farms want to be part of the market."
April 3, the market will move to a new temporary location on West Fifth Avenue between High and Oak streets, a few blocks from the market's traditional site.
While the market is operating at its temporary location, the 5th Street Public Market, a high-end shopping center next door, has offered use of its nearby parking lots, creating 700 parking spaces for farmers market customers and vendors.
“We were delighted we could offer a temporary home for the Farmers Market during construction of their permanent facility because we felt it was very important to keep the market downtown where it has been for more than 40 years," Irene Alltucker, vice president of real estate at the 5th Street Public Market, said in a statement.
The Lane County Farmers Market's historic location will be under construction throughout this year. When vendors return to their old location, likely in April 2022, they will find the space remodeled and expanded. The permanent home will be at the juncture of West Eighth Avenue and Oak Street.
The space, in the heart of downtown Eugene, has a long history as a food hub. Verberkmoes said that as early as 1915, farmers used the space to sell fresh produce at what was then called the "Eugene Producers' Market."
The Eugene Farmers Market, established later, has a decades-long history of drawing thousands of customers at a time on peak summer days.
The Eugene Farmers Market, which runs on Saturdays, has typically run across the street from a separate but complementary Eugene Saturday Market with art and craft vendors.
Verberkmoes said the new market space, which will be called Eugene Town Square, was designed primarily with farmers in mind, but since the farmers market only operates on Saturdays, the city plans to use the new venue for other community events on weekdays.
The construction project will be funded by the city's urban renewal funds and is estimated to cost between $1.5 million to $4.5 million.