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Coopersburg Farmer's Market: "This Town’s Not Big Enough For Two Markets"

Two markets. One big problem. Local growers are unable reach an agreement on this year's farmer's market.

Consolidation talks between the Lehigh Grower’s Market, located on Fairmount Street just off Route 309, and the Coopersburg Farmer’s Market, located on N. Main Street, are at a standstill. The two markets have been unable to agree on a location or a day of the week to hold the market.

For the past 15 years, the Lehigh market has been located on the north side of Living Memorial Park. Two years ago, Wendy Sinko, owner of Bee Natural in Coopersburg and a member of the Coopersburg Business Revitalization Program, decided to establish a farmer's market on N. Main Street in the parking lot of her store. "It was a natural extension of my business," said Sinko in a previous interview. 

Representatives of both markets claim to have reached out to one another, and say they have received no recent response.

“We said, ‘let’s sit down and talk,' ” said Sinko when asked about the Lehigh market. Sinko claims that members of the Lehigh market are unwilling to meet. “We’re not going to chase them,” she said.

“There was talk of combining the two markets,” said a representative of Windy Springs Farm and member of the Lehigh Grower’s Market who wished to remain anonymous. “They should’ve come to us,” the representative said.

According to its website, Windy Springs is owned and operated by brothers Matt and Tom Mood.

By the March CBRP meeting, talks broke down over the issue of how the markets would combine. The Coopersburg market wanted the Lehigh market to switch its hours to Thursday. Windy Springs Farm sees no reason to switch to Thursdays, which it said in prior meetings is a less successful day for a market. “Why would we want to switch from our Saturday market which thrives?”

Sinko said that the Coopersburg market  has decided not to pursue the Lehigh market for the time being, citing how far along in the year they were as well as the Lehigh market’s current low vendor participation. According to members of the Lehigh market who met at the Coopersburg Diner in early February, Lehigh market has two vendors. “They had lost most of their vendors and customers with the construction on 309,” Sinko said. “If they only have two vendors they’re going to really struggle.”

Representatives of the Lehigh market say that talk of their demise may be premature. “We have five new vendors we’re in talks with,” the representative from Windy Spring Farm said.

The representative also said that the CBRP gives preferential treatment to the Coopersburg market. The Coopersburg market is a member of the CBRP while the Lehigh market is not. “It’s hard. They don’t consider 309 part of their town,” the representative said. “We’ve been here 15 years and the town's not behind us. What about the market that’s been here?” 

Mayor Tim Paashaus disagrees. “It’s my understanding that the two markets are trying to work it out amongst themselves,” the mayor said in a phone interview. “We want both markets to succeed. They help different areas of our town.”

The CBRP has a different goal, says Sinko. “[The CBRP is] trying to focus on Main Street.”

Still, the CBRP says it's an open organization. Sinko even said that the Lehigh market was invited to the last CBRP meeting and did not come.

In spite of the recent lack of communication, both markets say they are still in favor of working together. “Next year we can re-evaluate the situation,” said Sinko.

“We’d like to work together,” said the Lehigh market representative.

Behind these conciliatory words, however, exists the rhetoric of two rivals. “This town’s not big enough for two markets,”  the Lehigh market representative said.

Donna Mood-Leber March 30, 2011 at 08:36 PM
I agree with you Wendy and thank you for taking the time to comment on this. Since I was misquoted and words taken out of context, I can now set the record straight. Being from Windy Springs Farm, I was at the meeting in Feb. and I now feel violated. There was no pretense to trying to stop any market from either Coopersburg or Lehigh markets. We are trying to find a way to cohabitate or help each other promote our products. There is more than enough room for two. What we wanted was some support from Coopersburg "the town" to help promote our market. We were never invited to any meetings and Wendy Sinko never talked to us but did invite us (through Cari Poole) to her store to meet each other. This whole thing has been handled poorly by the Patch. And to the person that doesn't want to stand on the highway to buy fruit, if you had ever been to Lehigh Grower's Market on Saturday, we are also in a parking lot under trees right across from the ball fields at Southern Lehigh Living Memorial Park. People need to gets facts straight before they comment or condemn. We are just plain farmers trying to make a living and provide a service for the community.
Matt Poulter March 30, 2011 at 08:53 PM
While I certainly appreciate and look foward to any discussion from the township, I'm afraid that I'm not entirely sure what is meant by charges that Windy Springs Farm was misquoted. All of the quotes in the article were taken from a phone interview with a representative of the company who wished to remain nameless. In the interview, the representative was asked questions directly pertaining to the topic of the two farmer's markets, and it was made cleat that responses to these questions would potentially make their way into an article in the future. Furthermore, there has been no attempt to show favoritism to one market over the other. Both markets were given a single description as to their location; that of the road of their street address. Again though, I am glad to see an interest as well as feedback from the community.
Lisa Piel March 30, 2011 at 09:10 PM
I personally was very excited when the Thursday farmers market started. I could never seem to make it to the Saturday one so I loved having another option. A big thank you to Wendy for offering this service to our community! Whether they combine as one or stay separate the outcome will be the same, providing fresh produce to our area.
robin abbate March 31, 2011 at 12:47 AM
This is very confusing. It is Wednesday, March 30th. The market isn't open yet on Main Street-when did you actually go? Both markets can easily exist. They are on different days. And actually I can't go on Saturday due to my work schedule, but I sure can go on a Thursday afternoon. :)
Bonnie Corona March 31, 2011 at 05:50 PM
I agree with Wendy Godshall and Hilary Smith. America is all about free enterprise. There is room for both markets. Since the two markets are on two different days, there is nothing preventing vendors from Lehigh Market from participating in both markets. In fact, it could be beneficial to all involved. I know Wendy has worked very hard to build her reputation within the community. I don’t feel Patch was created for all the negativity. Wendy is trying to provide the community with fresh -locally grown produce. She is also adding something that the Lehigh Market does not offer. By offering seminars, she is helping to educate the public (even our children) about good nutrition. Keep up the good work.

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