• Alice Popovici | The Gazette

Pop-up Market Rises in Riverdale Park

Updated: Jul 1, 2020


Organizers hope events transform building into gathering space

A pop-up farmers market is set to sprout in a vacant building in Riverdale Park on Jan. 8 - complete with vegetable vendors and baked goods - but organizers ssay the goal of the project goes beyond selling food.

"It has to be dynamic," said Jim Coleman of Riverdale Park, market coordinator for the Riverdale Park Farmers Market, which operates outside in the spring, summer and fall. "It needs to meet the community's desire for a gathering place."

Coleman said the outdoor market (which has been open since 1998) has been moving indoors during winter since 2010, but this year he wanted to go beyond a basic setup with vendor spaces. He said he asked Riverdale-based nonprofit The Neighborhood Design Center to help create an inviting space where people will want to linger as they shop, listen to live music and watch their children play nearby.

"We're just looking for a warm, farm feel that would inspire the feeling of comfort and the feeling of home," said Kelley Oklesson, program manager for the nonprofit, which offers pro-bono design services to community groups.

Oklesson said architects Allie O'Neill and Alexeus Nicol, who are volunteering on the project, are working to complement the building's " rough and rugged" architecture in their design. She said they plan plan to paint a mural inspired by a geometric quilt pattern on a cinderblock wall inside the building, and they plan to highlight the building's exposed beams and brick with warm lighting.

The vacant building where the market will open, whose past tenants included a barber shop and a bar, is oned by Washington, DC-based developer Douglas Jemal, Coleman said.

"I like the concept of having a very temporary building, and yet infusing it with a level of style that makes it a little more inviting," Coleman said.

He said that the temporary market, which will open Thursdays through March 26, will feature seven to nine vendors and bakers as well as live music acts such as the Riverdale-based acoustic musicians Miles Spencer and Mary Wheatley. He said the roughly 3,000 square-foot space will also include an area for children to draw and play board games."

"I hope that the camaraderie of the summer market is going to carry over into the winter market," said Michelle Burns of Riverdale Park. "It really has almost a block party feel."

Burns, who makes and sells a line of soap and skincare items, said she has been a vendor at the outdoor market since 2007, but is looking forward to visiting the indoor market as a customer. She said that over the past seven years, she and her husband, Dwight Holmes, have gradually done more and more of their food shopping at farmers markets.

"You're supporting local farming families and local craftspeople," Burns said. "It's encouraging money to stay in the community."

Vendors at the winter market will accept food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, or SNAP, program and customers will be able to make purchases using EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) cards, Coleman said.

The market will be open from 3 to 7 p.m. every Thursday from Jan. 8 to March 26. The address is 6204 Rhode Island Ave. in Riverdale Park.

apopovici@gazette.net

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