Without the Arts Center, Witherto the Farmers Market & Community Garden?


Washington Street Arts Center

For the past five years, I have been president of the Vermillion Area Farmers Market. In that five years, we have “lived” in three different settings. Now it looks like our home for the last two years, the Washington Street Arts Center (operated by the Vermillion Area Arts Council) may be sold.

To make matter worse, last year myself and a number of others initiated Vermillion’s first community garden project in the back lot of the Arts Center. If the building sells, they say they’ll sell that lot, too.

Frankly, as much as I have invested in that place, I am not sure I have the energy to fight this thing because I feel like the uncertainty will be never-ending. The Board will never get its act together and figure out how to raise serious money for the arts instead of trying to nickel-and-dime its members and the community.

I want to act and not react, and though giving up and moving both operations may seem reactionary, it seems a better, more positive action than staying there and continuing to wonder and worry and check up on what the Board is thinking of doing now.

At the same time, pulling these two programs from the Arts Council may sway the decision in favor of selling even more. I don’t want the selling (and let’s face it–whoever buys the thing is going to tear down that historic church) to be on my conscience. But I also can’t advocate keeping the community garden and farmers market on tenuous ground.

This all comes at a time when I wanted to mentally focus energy into the market and community gardens as a sort of positive reserve while fighting a much bigger Goliath–the proposed oil refinery in Union County. There are a lot of people saying it’s a foregone conclusion, but I am making my life and raising my family here, and I am not going to roll over so easily.

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