Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How to Start A Green Market, Right.

Fairhope, AL’s Windmill Market takes green to the extreme.

With the advent of the locavore movement, more farmers markets are springing up. Groups like our own Certified Arkansas Farmers Market are making sure that what comes from the field and ends up on your table is as organic and pure as possible.

But what about the physical structure of the farmers market experience? Need it be just simple pop-up tents and pickup truck beds?

Fairhope, AL has gone a step beyond. Opened in October 2009, the Windmill Market takes advantage of a facility vacated by a car dealership. Architects and owners Marc and Gina Walcott built into the existing structure and outfitted it with green ideas of all sorts. Today the market is home to Westside Grocery, which purchases all of its offerings from local farmers, fishermen and livestock producers. It’s also home to a great barbecue joint called Moe’s Original and to a four day a week arts and crafts market utilized by home and regional crafters.

It’s the building itself though that provides the most interest. With just $200,000 in pocket, the Walcotts retrofitted the 6600 square foot dealership into a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-approved structure. Walcott Adams Verneuille Architects in Fairhope designed the project with the assistance of their green consulting firm Watershed.

The Walcotts wanted to go as green as possible with the project. They enlisted the help of Gulf Coast Green Power in bringing in the windmill that stands today not only to reduce the market’s draw on the power grid but which serves as a landmark to guide visitors to the market itself. It’s almost silent as it oscillates in the wind. The 45-foot towering windmill provides all the power the market needs -- and more. There’s even a jack available to power your electric car with windmill energy.

The building itself was reconstructed with use of recycled and repurposed materials to cut down on construction costs and waste. When it’s hot, a geothermal air conditioning unit cools the area. The roofline was extended out to create more shade, and solar panels reside above to collect even more energy. Low VOC paints were used for the interior. Skylights throughout reduce the need for lighting. Busted up parking lot asphalt was used for low walls around the garden.

Westside Grocery composts all vegetative matter collected at the Market. Rainwater is collected and used not only for the community garden available on site but to flush the low-water toilets in the restroom. The gardens themselves host a variety of great produce, herbs and flowers available to Fairhope visitors and natives.

It’s an interesting project that’s already grown. Not even two years old, Windmill Market has become a destination for eco-tourists who are looking for ideas to take home with them. Westside Grocery is now open seven days a week, taking in fresh produce, baked goods, eggs and meat to sell as well as providing a marketplace for local packaged goods such as pizza sauce from the popular Ravenite Pizzaria around the corner and locally combed honey. There’s always a packed house on market days, when local vendors come in and utilize booth space for a small fee.

Windmill Market has become part of the community, with evening concerts scheduled during the weekend and an open gathering space that draws folks together. It’ll be interesting to see if similar structures pop up in our market.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Be kind.