By Tina Alvey
LEWISBURG — It appears that the Greenbrier County seat will again boast two farmers’ markets in the spring.
Lewisburg City Council agreed Tuesday to renew the Lewisburg Farmers Market lease for another year, and the Greenbrier County Commission’s somewhat less formal arrangement with the Greenbrier Valley Farmers Market was discussed in favorable terms during a Nov. 13 meeting.
The Lewisburg Farmers Market (LFM) will operate on Saturdays from early spring until mid-November, according to the terms of its modified lease with the city. The 12-year-old market’s vendors set up in the municipal parking lot owned by the Lewisburg United Methodist Church, just off East Washington Street.
This year’s lease had called for cessation of market operations at the end of October. The agreed-upon extension into November will be included in the new lease.
The LFM board’s president, Paul Brenner, appealed Tuesday to City Council on behalf of his organization’s general membership for another change in the lease as well. That change would drop the requirement that the LFM board include a City Council member and an at-large community member, both of whom are appointed by Council.
Brenner said his membership favored a procedure under which the LFM members would nominate an at-large member from the community, who would then be voted upon by the LFM board, with no input from city officials.
The addition of the two city-appointed members to LFM’s board was included in this year’s lease — which was signed on the brink of the market season — as a result of unrest in the LFM that ultimately led to the split that spawned the rival Greenbrier Valley Farmers Market.
Council member Andrew Evans, who served this year as one of the city’s representatives on the LFM board, said he no longer believes Council needs to be involved with the market’s board. He based that opinion on the conflict-free market season that just concluded.
Endorsing Brenner’s suggestion that the city back off from its close supervision, Evans said, “I think it’s a reasonable proposal.”
Mayor John Manchester was more cautious, saying, “I have a certain memory of the old days.”
As a compromise, Manchester suggested that the city appoint a single community member, with input from the market’s vendors, to serve on LFM’s board during the upcoming year. That board member would then report to Council on the board’s actions and the market’s operations.
Brenner agreed to the mayor’s compromise, and Council voted unanimously to renew the lease, as modified.
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