PORTLAND — Organizers of the Portland Winter Farmers Market say they want to move the market into the Irish Heritage Center, at the corner of State and Gray streets.

The City Council helped their cause Monday night, recommending that the Planning Board approve a zoning change that would allow the market to operate at the center.

The zoning change is needed to allow retail in the zone where the Irish Heritage Center is located.

The Planning Board will consider the zoning change on Nov. 9 before sending it back to the council for final approval on Nov. 15, said Councilor David Marshall.

Marshall, who facilitated a meeting last month between the organizers of the farmers market and the city staff, said he expects the council to support the zoning change.

Last winter, the market operated at 85 Free St. Organizers said the space was too small and there was not enough parking for customers. “We wanted a better and a bigger space,” said Lauren Pignatello, one of the market’s coordinators.

Pignatello, a farmer from Whitefield who helps to coordinate the winter farmer’s market at Fort Andross in Brunswick, said her group has an agreement with the Irish Heritage Center to use the facility on Saturdays. The center has 5,400 square feet of space.

If the city approves, the market will operate from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., beginning Jan. 8. It would run through April 23.

Pignatello said the city offered to let the market use the concourse at Hadlock Field to begin its winter season, starting Nov. 27, but organizers felt they should wait until after the holidays and then use the Irish Heritage Center.

Pignatello said she expects the winter farmer’s market to attract as many as 30 vendors from across Maine. The market will have fresh vegetables, meats, honey, eggs, tempeh, jams, pickles, cheese and yogurt.

“A winter market, for the farmer, has tremendous value because we get to sell our goods year-round,” Pignatello said. “And as a place to shop in the winter, the customers love it.”

The Portland Farmers Market now operates on Wednesdays at Monument Square and on Saturdays at Deering Oaks. It will run through Thanksgiving.

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]