DAYTON — Dayton’s new Artisan Food Center is opening its doors for visitors starting Saturday.
For those who find winter sadly lacking a farmer’s market, the center will be hosting a Winter Market each Saturday until Memorial Day from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
So far, about a dozen vendors have signed up, selling everything from locally-made soaps to farm-fresh eggs, artisan bread and produce.
Numi Gardens, which leases the garden space outside the food center, will sign up customers for a summer Community Supported Agriculture food box.
The Blue Mountain Station Co-op, which is managing the market, will also have a table with bulk natural food items like beans and lentils available.
Eventually, the Co-op hopes to grow the market into a retail destination with regular hours, allowing the food processing businesses located at the Artisan Food Center to sell their products. It also plans to have a regular selection of natural food items available.
“People can come up and actually purchase those items in bulk, kind of simulating what our market will be like in a future,” said Suzi Tasker, the owner of Gypsy Girl Granola and president of the co-op. “Each week we’re trying to grow that market a little more so we really want people to come up and give their input.”
The food center is home to a commercial kitchen, which can be rented by anyone with a food handler’s permit for $10 per hour. Kitchen users can also sell their products at the market, provided they meet some health department guidelines, without being established businesses.
Port of Columbia Manager Jennie Dickinson said she hopes this setup will allow the market to serve as an incubator for local business.
“It’s not a grocery store. This is an entrepreneurial market that will grow as products are made and vendors are developed,” she said.
This weekend’s first Winter Market will include live music from local guitarist Don Putnam. Tasker said she would like to have acoustic music every week, and is also working to line up demonstrations.
“Hopefully it’ll just grow week by week,” she said.
Those interested in becoming a market vendor or performing music should contact Tasker at email@example.com.