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Custom farmers market features pop-up tents

Project Briefs | April 1, 2011 | By:

Denver Tent Co. fabricates a consistent look for a California farmers market.

Farmers markets across the United States are popping up as fast as pop-up tents. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture put the number of markets at more than 6,100—a 16 percent increase over the 2009 count. Most of these markets feature delectable produce sold by friendly vendors under a hodgepodge of well-worn tents.

Launching in October 2010, the Marin Country Mart Farmers Market in California’s San Francisco Bay area took a different approach, creating a consistent and attractive tent atmosphere by supplying tents for vendors. Desiring a soft aesthetic, market coordinators hired Denver Tent Co. of Denver, Colo., to manufacture 28 pop-up style tents with natural canvas tops for vendors and later a natural canvas top for a 30-by-60-foot frame tent.

Jeff Greene, general manager of Denver Tent, says the challenge in this job was fabricating tops for frames that traditionally use a vinyl fabric that can be tensioned and has more elastic properties. “Because the canvas doesn’t have the same elasticity as vinyl, fabricating a canvas top required different engineering and functionality,” he says.

The pop-up tents did provide one “luxury.” Given their small size, Denver Tent was able to execute three iterations of the top to get the look and feel desired.

While a consistent aesthetic was the overriding goal of market organizers, market coordinator Micheala Biaggi says that providing tents and tables helps to attract farmers whose resources may be stretched thin when setting up at multiple markets on Saturday mornings.

“It’s easy enough for farmers to find another salesperson to staff the stall, but it’s harder to ask a farmer to join the market if they have to buy another table and tent,” she says.

This kind of a custom job was a first for Denver Tent, which manufactures a variety of tents that use both vinyl and canvas, but it wasn’t an entirely unusual request, Greene says.

We are getting more and more requests from customers who want products that reflect their organic, green or environmental philosophies,” he says. “We are selling more and more canvas as clients want a certain look and feel that natural canvas provides.”

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