Lesson 1 – there’s a lot more planning than I thought. I recently became the new market manager for the Sally Frank’s Farmers’ Market replacing longtime volunteer extraordinaire, Cindy Chabot. One thing I learned right away, is there is a lot of planning that goes into running a successful farmers’ market, and it starts with dedicated volunteers. The newly created board, which Cindy is a member, just celebrated their one-year anniversary. It has accomplished quite a bit including creating a structure for running the market for the long-term between the board, hired staff, and volunteers, grant writing and raising funds to hire staff including its now famous Urban Farm Tour (June 24, in case you haven’t heard), outreach to seniors and SNAP recipients to provide healthy food, creating a sponsorship/friends of the market program, while continuing with the highly regarded farms, food, other vendors and events that are at the market each week.
We have been meticulously planning for months to make sure we have a balanced market of fresh produce, prepared foods, personal care products, arts and crafts, and representation from businesses and nonprofits. At the end of the 2016 season, we surveyed our market goers to hear what they think we do best, and what we could improve upon. The main points were, more farms, more baked goods, and prepared foods to eat at the market and take home, and continue to provide that community feel market goers love. So we listened.
This year the market will feature 3 farms – 2 new ones, Dick’s Market Garden, who’s been coming to the market since early 2000, Moonlight Farm, a new farm growing organically, and Kelly’s Farm, who also attends the Wakefield Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. We are excited to see what they have in store for us this season. Several of our prepared food vendors are returning, like Habibi’s (formerly Samiras’) and will provide the same delicious Middle Eastern cuisine you keep coming back for. Pick up some delicious, homemade pasta from Deano’s. New to the market is Mr. Tamole’s, bringing homemade tamales-veggie, meat and a sweet black bean. The Bread Shop from Wakefield will be at the market most weeks this summer with their fresh breads, baguettes and Irish soda bread. You can still get delicious bagels from Bagel Land and you can’t get enough of Pourman’s Nitro coffee and some of their delicious treats. The Popover Lady is back with her famous cinnamon and plain popovers. You can also find fresh food for your pets at the market from Laszlo Family Farm. My personal favorite, Ackermann’s Maple Farm is back; look for their maple syrups and maple creams/candy. Every year, my husband brews delicious beer with their syrup. Jennifer Lee’s Bakery is back with allergen-free baked goods, that actually taste good! Seven Hill Farmstead will debut their Italian wine crackers and vegetable dips/spread from their farm in Rutland, cooking out of their new kitchen in Melrose. Pure Pastry from Beverly is bringing organic and gluten-free pastries that are delicious! Shagbark farm is bringing hickory syrup and other seasonal flavored syrups and jams created from the ingredients from their farm. Shady Pine Farm is returning with their organic/sustainably raised meats and eggs. Roberto’s Seafood is bringing all types of fresh caught ocean fish. Another new vendor this year is Ava’s selling selling handcrafted caramel popcorn. In July you can find a few jam vendors like Clives, who makes hot pepper jams and Susie Goodwin bringing her homemade jams from her garden. And look for local Melrosian, Nanette, selling her sought after French pastries.
The market is also a great place to find personal care products gifts for family, friends, or even yourself! Our local personal care providers are selling natural soaps, herbal salves, and infused oils. Or visit the week’s local artisans selling one of a kind jewelry, wood crafts, pottery, greeting cards, handmade placemats, table runners and artwork.
Look out for our expanded food demo’s this summer as we utilize the cooking talents of local chefs and restaurants. We’ll have special events for families, seniors, and a ‘walk to the park’ day. Returning this year is Ask a Master Gardener , free bike tune-ups, an Herb walk with Steph Zabel of Flowerfolk Herb, and Yoga in the Park with Barre and Soul Yoga.
Don’t forget that if you don’t have cash, that’s not a problem! We have Market Bucks at the market table, which you can purchase with a debit/credit or your SNAP/EBT card.
We understand that parking can be a challenge. Please help us by considering walking/riding your bike/strolling your stroller! If you have to drive, that’s okay, there is free parking in the commuter rail lot and lot at the Trinity Church.
Young visitors are invited to join Club Sprouts, where they answer a clue of the day, taste the featured fruit or vegetable and earn a stamp in their Club Sprouts passport. Five stamps earns a prize.
The market will continue to provide a $10 match to SNAP recipients and farmer’s market coupons, so everyone has equal access to healthy foods.
We are still looking for volunteers to help with setting up the market, welcoming market goers, taking pictures, counting market goers, and helping to take down the market at the end of the day. You can sign up easily on signup.com.
My perspective of the market has been as a market goer, but I’m looking forward to working with all of the volunteers, vendors, and market goers to continue to make the market a welcoming and farm fresh place for you to visit and enjoy.
The market is held every Thursday starting June 8 from 2-7pm. in Bowden Park at the junction of W. Emerson and Vinton Streets, adjacent to the Cedar Park Commuter Rail stop. Walking, strolling, and biking is encouraged.
Please stop by the market table and say hi!