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Local support runs deep

Throughout the years, the Jaffrey Farmers’ Market has seen different locations as well as various managers, but one thing that has remained the same is the community feeling surrounding the event.

According to the former farmers’ market manager, Brenda Bhatti, for many years local consumers have gathered at the market to support local producers. “We have loyal customers that come season after season, and have kept us going,” Bhatti said.

It was no different last Saturday, when the farmers’ market celebrated the beginning of their 24th season, this year with a new name and under new management.

William Humphrey, a Jaffrey native and a nutrition student at Keene State College, replaced Bhatti, who was in charge of the market for four years. According to Humphrey, the market is now officially called “Jaffrey Community Farmers’ Market,” in order to promote community engagement and encourage Jaffrey residents to support local production.

“The farmers’ market is an effort to support local producers. We want to bring the community together and promote sustainability at the same time,” Humphrey said in an interview Thursday.

As an effort to make locally produced goods more accessible, the organizers of the farmers’ market recently applied to be part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program, which means vendors would be able to accept food stamps for their products. Humphrey said the application was recently submitted and they expect to have it approved by the end of July.

“We applied to the USDA to become a SNAP retailer. Legally, they have up to 45 days to respond, to approve or deny the applications,” Humphrey said.

The farmers’ market will go on every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon until Oct. 11.

On the first Saturday of the season, five local producers had stands up. They offered a variety of goods from the traditional New Hampshire Maple syrup to handmade goat’s milk soap.

Humphrey and Bhatti both said they predict more farmers and local producers will join the market in the upcoming weeks. “It is early in the season, most farmers are still growing their vegetables, so they are not ready to join us yet,” Bhatti said.

Lorri Coll of Jaffrey had the only table selling fruits and vegetables on Saturday. Coll said this is the second year she’s vended at the Jaffrey Farmers’ Market.

Bhatti explained Coll was able to bring vegetables and fruits to the venue, because she grows her products in a greenhouse and that allows her to grow them faster. “We would hope more farmers could do this,” Bhatti said.

Coll’s produce is nearly gone just a few hours after she arrives at the market. “It is almost all gone now, but we brought mint, strawberries, squash, zucchini, carrots, eggs, maple syrup and other things,” Coll said.

Suzanne Whitmore of New Ipswich had a table with naturally scented goat’s milk soaps she makes at her house. “I milk my goats every day and make the soap with that. I have small goats that don’t give me a lot of milk, but they give me very rich milk that is great for hydrating the skin,” Whitmore said Saturday. The venue in Jaffrey is the first farmers’ market she’s attended as a soap vendor.

In order to reserve a table for the farmers’ market, vendors can pay $5 for a single Saturday or $50 dollars for the entire season. Humprey said no membership is required and there are no restrictions on how many vendors offer the same product at the market.

Bhatti said the farmers’ market accepts a variety of products. “We want to give producers the chance to sell their goods and we want to give customers many options. If two vendors offer the same product, that’s OK, we believe that clients will look around and buy what they like most,” Bhatti said.

Now celebrating its 24th season, the Jaffrey Farmers’ Market has become a mainstay of the community over the summer and early fall. Even after switching locations from the Monadnock Plaza to Coll’s Farm and then to the town’s Civic Center, the Jaffrey Farmers’ Market has remained strong for 24 straight seasons.

For Bhatti, the dedication of the leaders of the market has been crucial in making the farmers’ market successful: “It is all about [the manager’s] enthusiasm. It is a lot of work to manage the farmers’ market. There are not many people that are willing to devote six hours every Saturday for the whole summer.”

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