Plenty of parking at a Portland farmers market? No, it’s not an impossible dream.

If the city council approves the move on Monday, the Portland Winter Farmers’ Market will relocate to the Maine Girls’ Academy at 631 Stevens Ave., which has 125 parking spaces and plenty of street parking as well.

The new location is also located on two bus routes, with a bus stop directly in front of the school.

“There have been a lot of complaints at the past couple of locations about not having public transportation that goes directly there,” said Clara Moore, program manager for the Portland Farmers’ Market Association.

This will be the winter market’s fourth move in seven years. The first winter market was set up by a group of farmers unaffiliated with the Portland Farmers’ Market Association in 2010, in a building on Free Street. The market moved to the Maine Irish Heritage Center after that, under the umbrella of the association, but complaints about parking led to another move to Urban Farm Fermentory in East Bayside in 2013. The market quickly ran out of space there, and moved two years ago to a vacant building on Cove Street in East Bayside. Again space grew tight, parking was at a premium, and the rent became unaffordable for some farmers, according to Moore and Mary Ellen Chadd of Green Spark Farm in Cape Elizabeth, one of the farmers who worked on finding a new space for the market.

“There are a number of farms, my farm included, that last year at the winter market table space was so tight we could only bring half our offerings,” Chadd said.


By comparison, the Maine Girls’ Academy gymnasium is nearly three times the size of the Cove Street location.

To make the move to the school possible, the Portland City Council must amend the farmers market section of the city ordinance to allow farmers markets in the R5 zone. The amendment will make it easier for the market to move again in the future, if need be, according to a city memo, and may make it easier to hold farmers markets on private property in other parts of the city.

The new location abuts the Deering, Back Cove and Rosemont neighborhoods, all walkable residential areas the market can pull customers from every Saturday.

“Having a more accessible market will make it more profitable for farmers,” Moore said.

In addition, the former convent adjacent to the Maine Girls’ Academy is being converted into an 80-unit senior housing complex, which means more availability of fresh, healthy foods for Maine seniors, she said.

Twenty farmers are expected to participate in the winter market, selling mushrooms, eggs, cheese, goat’s milk, beef, pork and vegetables. The first market is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 2, with a grand opening Dec. 23 that will feature sampling, giveaways, food and live music. The winter market will run through April 21.


Amy Jolly, head of school at Maine Girls’ Academy, said having the farmers market on site fulfills part of her goal of making the private school more of a community resource.

“We like having other groups here,” she said. “It just makes it a more interesting place.”


CORRECTION: This story was updated at 12:26 p.m. on Nov. 17, 2017, to correct the attribution of the quote about profitability.

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