A Shrewsbury Township supervisor who voted to not renew the municipality's contract to host a popular farmers' market has now revived the twice-a-month event on his own dime.
Gene Montanarelli said he made a $1,700 investment to ensure the farmers market opened last month in the parking lot of the Shrewsbury Commons Shopping Center.
The money paid for liability insurance and helped vendors get started.
In March, Montanarelli and other supervisors upheld their decision not to renew the township's contract with the shopping center, claiming it would cost $2,000 of the township's $1.8 million budget.
"We never said we don't want a farmers' market. We just don't think the taxpayers should have to pay for it," he said. "The township took all the responsibility before."
After voting against having the township be responsible for the market, Montanarelli said he made a promise at a public meeting that he would get it started as a private venture this year.
"I'm keeping that promise, even if I don't get all my money back," he said.
The eight vendors who are selling at the market are each paying Montanarelli $10 a week, he said.
That's cheaper than what 16 vendors paid last year, the supervisor said.
Vendors: This year's vendors include produce farmers, a pit beef seller and a kettle corn maker.
Montanarelli said he's also inviting the American Red Cross to host a blood drive there.
"We also have a table set up to promote all the businesses in Shrewsbury," he said.
That the farmers' market is being operated privately is working well, Montanarelli said.
"This is a business. People use the farmers' market to make a living. Why should Shrewsbury pay for that?" he said.
Supervisor Susan Fox, who voted to renew the township's contract to host the farmers' market, declined comment on the privately-managed market this year.
Montanarelli said he's making the best of the situation, which drew a lot of controversy earlier this year.
"If it works this way this year, we can do it again next year," he said.
But Montanarelli said he expects to lose money this year.
"I keep spending money while I'm there and coming home with fresh vegetables. It's going to end up costing me more money," he said with a laugh. "I'm hoping they have good corn this weekend."
The farmers' market will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and will be open at that time on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month through October.
-- Candy Woodall can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.