BRATTLEBORO -- Since 1990, Peter Dunning has been spending his summer Saturdays at Brattleboro Area Farmers Market.
Though he lives in Springfield, the producer of organic pork, lamb and beef says it's well worth the weekly trip to a bustling market nestled between Western Avenue and Whetstone Brook.
"It's a wonderful market," Dunning said. "I've gone to many, many markets and this one is just right on -- they're very responsive to local organic food, and they're very loyal."
He was among dozens of vendors who volunteered their time on Sunday for an annual spring cleanup of the site in preparation for the scheduled May 4 opening.
Manager Martha Miller said it's business as usual in spite of the fact that part of the property has been listed for sale.
"We are excited to start the first Saturday in May, as we always do," Miller said.
Brattleboro Area Farmers Market has operated for more than 35 years at the same site. The organization owns a small parking lot across the brook but leases other parcels.
One of those properties -- which includes the main parking lot off Western Avenue and a portion of the vending circle -- is on the market. At this point, Miller could say only that market organizers do not want to relocate.
"We are hoping to stay where we are," she said. "We're still working out our options.
In the meantime, Miller said she is looking forward to "a particularly full and vibrant market this year."
"We had a big response to our early spring call for new applicants," she said, adding that the new faces will include a full-time mushroom vendor and a cheese producer.
The many returning vendors include Patricia Austin of Wild Flour Vermont Bakery in Brattleboro. She's been part of the outdoor emporium for a decade and said her attachment to the market is "hard to put into words."
"It's a really great place to have a small business -- to get exposure with the (local) customers and the tourists," Austin said.
"It's just an amazing gathering place," she added. "We have a very eclectic mix."
Laura Hecht, representing Hermit Thrush Homestead in Halifax and Guilford, said the market is all about "supporting your neighbors." That's also true for the vendors, Hecht said as she raked brush at the market site Sunday.
"We've met neighbors we didn't even know we had," she said.
More information on the market is available at www.brattleborofarmersmarket.com.
Mike Faher can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.