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Vermont Food and Farmer Center and Rutland Creek Path open

RUTLAND-Two of Rutland's most exciting, community driven projects reached their first milestones on Saturday, Nov. 3. First, the Rutland Creek Path had a ribbon cutting ceremony and the first segment is now open to the public. Second, the Vermont Food and Farmer Center had its first indoor farmer's market of the season and it was a rousing success.

The Creek Path started as an idea at the Creative Economy public forum eight years ago. Generous donations from local individuals and businesses, federal assistance and countless hours of volunteer labor have made the project a reality. The first segment of the path starts at the Giorgetti complex and Pine Hill Park, 2 Oak Street Extension. The path utilizes new signs and crosswalks on existing roads and a new 10-foot-wide paved path to end on State Street. When the path is completed, it will continue south to reach St. Joseph's college.

The Rutland Regional Planning Commission and the Rutland Creative Economy continue to search for more private donation and public funding to complete the project.

3--VFFC-openning -1

The Vermont Farmers Food Center is another volunteer-driven project that highlights the positive direction Rutland is taking. Greg Cox of Boardman Hill Farm in West Rutland and Bill Clark of Clark farm in Wells, have shared a vision for the better part of a decade. They saw a need for a community center that houses a weekly farmer's market, commercial kitchen, educational space and a home for local food charities. Vermont Farmer's Market has helped make the center a reality. When the old Mintzer Lumber complex on West Street became available, Cox, Clark and their fellow organizers, knew they had found the right spot.

Since the middle of this summer, a phenomenal amount of work was accomplished. Buildings were cleared of tons of debris, broken windows were replaced, graffiti was painted over and the overgrown lot was landscaped and repurposed. When the center opened its doors to the public on Saturday, Nov. 3 the complete transformation was apparent. Large windows let natural light flood in, and there was live music playing over the din of the busy market.

According to organizers, over 2,000 people came to check out the first market and its 60 or so vendors. Arts and crafts, jewelry, hot food, and of course, local agricultural products were in abundance.

Dennis Duhaime of Radical Roots Farm said "we almost ran out of lettuce at 11:30. I had to run down to the farm and pick some more." David O'Rourke is the project manager and he said "every vendor I talked with expressed excitement over their sales figures, and they all noticed many new faces. As one gentleman said 'Every new face is a potential customer,'" he said,  adding "Talking with a number of the volunteers today, they all had a sense of pride and a sense of accomplishment. What a great beginning!"

Greg Cox shared the sentiment, saying "We had an amazing turnout today; cars were lined up all the way down West Street this morning. It's a very positive step".

Finishing the space for the Vermont Foodbank is one of many projects the group will continuing working on as the center progresses forward.