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Summer Guide

Market Watch

KEEPING IT LOCAL: Crafters and growers  revel in resurgence of outdoor markets

  • Fresh Chicks Farmers Market at Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Fresh Chicks Farmers Market at Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Fresh Chicks Farmers Market at Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Fresh Chicks Farmers Market at Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Fresh Chicks Farmers Market at Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Fresh Chicks Farmers Market at Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Rindge Farmers' and Crafters' Market<br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Rindge Farmers' and Crafters' Market<br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

Crates filled with lettuce, carrots, corn and herbs sit beside tables lined with banana bread, pork, wool, handmade soap and beaded jewelry. The Monadnock region’s farmers socialize with their neighbors — some of whom are fellow growers and crafters — and share stories about how they got their start. For many, attending or participating in area farmers’ markets is a tradition that spans generations.

Judy Unger-Clark of Rindge, who operated an organic farm with her husband through the 1990s, said farmers’ markets are a beloved event in the Monadnock region, and in recent years have become more plentiful. Increased awareness about the importance of buying local and supporting your neighbors may be a reason for the resurgence in markets, she said.

“The biggest thing for me is the freshness of a product. And you need to know where it’s coming from,” Unger-Clark said. “Anybody who buys from me knows it’s off my farm — it’s made by my hands or grown by my family.”

Unger-Clark has participated in the Rindge Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market at the West Rindge Common on Route 202 for the past couple of years, selling vegetables, flowers and maple syrup under the name Sunflower Field. Her son, Asa Unger-Clark, and daughter-in-law, Tiffany Unger-Clark, own Belted Creek Farm in Rindge and raise cows and pigs for their meat. They also sell at the Rindge market each week.

“Back years ago when I did markets, my son and daughter would go with me. Now my grandchildren, who are very young, are coming along. It’s interesting for me to see another generation participate,” she said.

Unger-Clark, who is a retired high school photography teacher, said gardening is an extension of her artwork. “It’s a tremendous amount of work, but I love being outdoors and its something I’ve always done,” she said.

For Karen Wessling of Antrim, selling at the Fresh Chicks Outdoor Market at Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough is a new adventure she just embarked on this month. And so far, Wessling said, she’s loving the experience.

“I would bring banana bread to family occasions and everyone would say, ‘You should sell this,’” Wessling said at her stand on May 6. “I’ve had someone already ask me what’s in my recipe. I said, ‘Bananas, that’s all you need to know.’”

Wessling said she’s not divulging her baking secrets, but will offer shoppers a sample of her bread to taste. Banana bread of all varieties, including strawberry, zucchini and chocolate chip, are available for purchase at her stand every Monday, she said.

“I’m working on a gluten-free recipe, but I haven’t quite perfected it yet,” Wessling said.

Shopping at a farmers’ market brings Wessling back to the good ol’ days, she said, to a day when the markets not only supported local farmers and the local economy, but when it was the best source for all your grocery needs.

Everyone who participates in the region’s markets are so hardworking and supportive of one another, said Melissa Greenwood of Sharon, who owns Pixie Pants Designs, a handcrafted artisan soap and skin care business. Greenwood sells her products at the Fresh Chicks Outdoor Market and said the camaraderie among vendors there is great.

“Markets today are selling more than vegetables,” Greenwood said, adding that even if someone is on a mission to find carrots they should take the time to explore everything there is to offer.

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the farmers and take advantage of samples,” she said.

Grace Rowehl of Antrim who owns Deer Meadow Homestead agreed with Greenwood, explaining that people can get so much out of their town’s farmers’ market if they take the time.

Knowing who made your food and how the animals were raised is so important, Rowehl said. “We can’t let ourselves lose touch with that,” she said.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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