David Baecher, co-owner of East of Eden Flower Farm in Bowdoinham, sets down a bouquet of lilies for a customer to pick up at the farmers market on Friday. Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record

BRUNSWICK — After both of Brunswick’s summer farmers markets relocated to start off their season so they’d have more room to space amid the coronavirus pandemic, one is moving back to its original downtown spot, while the other is staying put. 

Tuesday, the Brunswick Farmers Market is moving back to the downtown mall, where vendors hope to have increased visibility going into the height of the summer season. 

When the market opened in May, the mall still needed to be resodded and it wasn’t clear how they would be able to arrange the tents in order to properly social distance, so organizers relocated to the parking lot of St. John’s Catholic School. 

Now though, the sod work is done and the vendors have a plan — one that looks similar to the one town officials approved earlier this year that allowed the market to stay on the mall but took some of the pressure off the grass and trees damaged by years of foot traffic. 

The market’s 15 vendors will spread out at least six feet apart along the sidewalks, with enough space for customers to stand in line while keeping their distance. As has been the case all season, vendors and customers will be encouraged to wear masks and preorder when possible. The market will now be open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays.

“We’re very excited to be back on the mall,” said Abby Sadauckas, market president. “There’s such good energy in that space. You can stop for lunch and pick up some strawberries for dessert. … There’s just more visibility.” 

A customer browses at the Six River Farm market stall from a distance on Friday. The market has been hosted in the St. John’s Catholic School parking lot this season, but is moving back to the downtown mall on Tuesday. Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record

Setting up shop in the St. John’s Parking Lot has had its benefits, such as more parking, immediate access to vendor vehicles and a flat surface for customers. There were some problems. Aside from the decreased visibility, the parking lot could get extremely hot, which presented problems both for customers shopping in the sun and for vendors trying to keep their products fresh and cold. There was more flexibility in May and early June, but now the growing season is in full swing and farmers have a lot more variety and a lot more volume they need to sell. 

Sadauckas said that so far, sales have not been as strong as they have been in the past, but it’s hard to tell if that’s because of the new location, the pandemic, record unemployment or a combination of factors. 

Brunswick’s other farmers market, the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust Farmers Market, usually at Crystal Spring Farm but currently housed in the Brunswick High School parking lot, is also seeing slightly lower numbers than usual, Angela Twitchell, land trust director said. 

The Saturday market is more than twice the size of its downtown counterpart and is staying put, for now. 

“You’d think it would be an easy answer, but it isn’t,” Twitchell said. “We’re not making a call for the whole season and we’re still hopeful, but because of the number of vendors and volume of people who come, I don’t think we could comply with social distancing” at the Crystal Spring Farm, she said. During the height of summer, as many as 3,000 people might visit the market in an afternoon. 

The primary concern continues to be getting the farmers’ food and products to people safely, and they are “actively monitoring the situation and talking about it seemingly endlessly,” she said. 

Despite a slight dip in attendance, Twitchell said the season is working out better than they expected. 

The high school and its increased space creates a different feeling for the market, but overall the culture is positive, with people really just grateful to get their food, she said. 

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