An old railroad depot is about to get a new farmers market.
Beginning Nov. 9, the Downtown Winter Farmers Market will take up residence in the Rio Grande Depot every-other Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through April 26.
The every-other-week schedule will give local growers a chance to ramp up production for an expanded format in years to come, said Kim Angeli from the Downtown Alliance, a nonprofit group that includes 2,500 business and property owners who want to make the central business district a "dynamic and diverse community."
Last winter, the Downtown Alliance sponsored "Pop Up Markets" once a month in different locations.
Winter Market Manager Alison Einerson said about 50 vendors will participate, offering produce, meat, bread, honey, eggs and other items.
"We're really excited to partner with the Rio Grande Depot," she said. "It will be a good opportunity to buy locally grown food and meet like minded people."
Among those who will participate is Julie Clifford of Provo's Clifford Family Farms.
"It gives me an opportunity to expand my business and keep my relationship with my customers" from the summer Downtown Farmers Market. "It's a wonderful thing for me."
Clifford produces chicken, pork, eggs and honey.
For Christian Harrison, who lives in the neighborhood and is chairman of the Downtown Community Council, the Winter Market increases the vibrancy of the area around Pioneer Park, which has potential but also faces challenges.
He sees the Winter Market as a link between restaurants and Rose Wagner Theater as well as other activities east of Rio Grande Depot on 300 South and west of it to Utah Transit Authority's intermodal hub.
The Winter Market will bring new life to the stately depot one of Salt Lake City's historic architectural icons, said Julie Fisher, executive director of the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts, which operates the building.
Among other things, the depot houses an art collection and exhibition of Utah artists. Fisher hopes the market will bring a new audience with an appreciation of those works.
Although the ultimate goal is to establish a year round market, there is no timetable for doing so, said Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker. And even if the depot does not become the Winter Market's permanent hope, its creation is part of a larger community plan.
"The focus of the market," he said, "fits into the broader livability agenda we have been working on for years."