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Carlisle market provides new opportunities

By - Last modified: February 14, 2011 at 12:04 PM

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The goal of the Carlisle Central Farmers Market is to boost the profitability of local agriculture.

The goal of the Carlisle Central Farmers Market is to boost the profitability of local agriculture. The market, which had its grand opening Sept. 15, also presents new opportunities for some Central Pennsylvania businesses not directly tied to farming.

Gold doesn’t grow on trees, but that didn’t keep Melissa Colucci from opening a table at the market to gain exposure for her goldsmith and jewelry business, Colucci & Company.

“This was an opportunity we couldn’t refuse,” she said.

Colucci’s business is moving to Carlisle from Camp Hill. Location is always important, she said. Her store will be next to the market’s entrance on North Hanover Street. Colucci did not give an exact date for the business’ move. It hinged on lease agreements at her current location.

“I see the way Carlisle has gotten behind this farmers’ market, and it’s exciting,” she said.

A fresh start is also on the mind of Karen and Larry Rhody, the wife-and-husband team who own and operate the Courthouse Common, a coffee and pastry stop on South Hanover Street, diagonal from the Cumberland County Courthouse.

That’s a great location, Karen Rhody said. Most days around lunch, customers line up nearly out the front doors to get bagels, sandwiches and cappuccinos.

The Rhodys opened a stand at the market, their second location, to sell a selection of items including coffee and some of their baked goods.

“This was small enough where we could open a second location and not feel overwhelmed,” Rhody said while grinding beans and serving piping cups of joe to patrons.

With hundreds of people filing through the market, organizers said the success was apparent.

Part of the success was the market’s ability to draw the Carlisle community, said Maryellen Stetz, the market’s manager.

“I’m excited because our shoppers all know each other, and everyone’s chitchatting,” she said.

Stetz and the other organizers said they were thrilled with the number of people coming through. They expected the opening to be good. They also said the crowds should be steady through the winter.

Vendors estimated between 1,100 and 1,250 people visited the market from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., said Eric Klinedinst, chairman of the Carlisle Central Farmers Market Inc., the nonprofit board running the market.

Each vendor sold between $500 and $1,200 worth of products, and many sold out, he said.

“This is really a community effort. People are coming in from everywhere,” Klinedinst said.

A handful of the 15 vendors are not directly connected to agriculture, he said. Two more vendors were added for Sept. 21 and 22, the first full weekend of the market. The board is negotiating with more than five additional vendors.

Although some non-farm businesses will benefit from the market, the main thrust is the viability of local and regional farms.

Otterbein Acres is one of those farms. The 96-acre spread in Newburgh, Franklin County — about 30 miles from Carlisle — is owned and operated by John and Lena Otterbein and their children. The Amish family specializes in artisan cheeses and meats, as well as fresh flowers, all of which they sold at the market’s opening.

“I like the way they’re bringing specialty items in,” said Paul Otterbein.

He and sister Laura Otterbein were tending the stand at the market. Paul Otterbein said his family was hesitant about joining the farmers’ market until about two weeks ago. They decided it was a good way to sell more of their products.

The market will be a success for the local economy, Klinedinst said.

“When the farmer can sell directly to consumers,” he said, “it keeps the money in our local area and puts more money in the hands of the farmer.”

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If you go

The Carlisle Central Farmers Market is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, at 117 N. Hanover St.

Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@cpbj.com

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