Farmers markets report a strong summer season

  • The Peterborough Farmers Market will continue until December on Wednesdays from 3 to 6 p.m. at the community center. It will move inside in October.  —STAFF PHOTO ROWAN WILSON

  • Conrad Dumas, president of the Peterborough Farmers Market, at the market with his business, Ten Talents at La Bergerie Dumas —STAFF PHOTO ROWAN WILSON

  • Catherine Pendleton-Wheeler at the Liberty Fish table at Peterborough Farmers Market. —STAFF PHOTO BY ROWAN WILSON

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/21/2022 10:30:33 AM

Farmers markets were prominent in the region this summer. With new markets, returning markets and growing markets, there was emphasis on the importance of local producers and local consumers. 

Conrad Dumas, president of the Peterborough Farmers Market, said this year was their biggest yet.

“I have a clicker, and for the last four years I try to count patrons as they come in,” Dumas said, clarifying that he counts “wallets,” not every individual, so he’s not counting a child with his or her parent, for instance. In 2019, he recorded 1,962 patrons, followed by 2,871 in 2020, and 4,021 in 2021. In 2022, he has counted 6,032.

“We have grown 50 percent since last year,” Dumas said. “It’s just thrilling.”

The number of vendors has also grown. Totally Thai Food Truck joined last year and Liberty Fish is new. They have about 20 vendors a week, including some who are part-time, as well as guest vendors. The League of Women Voters has been a guest at the market, and last week, Renée Sangermano was behind a table with information about Community Volunteer Transportation Company (CVTC), a service that provides free transportation for people in the area through its team of volunteer drivers. 

“From my experience with vendors, I think they’re pretty much a happy group,” Dumas said. “A vendor will eventually quit a market if they’re not happy.”

Dumas believes COVID helped boost the market in 2020.

“When we opened up, people felt safe outside,” he said. “We all wore masks that first year, and people were so hungry for social contact. I think what’s propelling things now is so many people have realized ‘This is great.’” 

With supply-chain issues and inflation affecting supermarket inventory and pricing, Dumas believes the community is recognizing the importance of local producers. He said farmers markets can give the people a “we’re all in it together” attitude as they learn what buying and eating local is all about.

“I think every town should have a market,” Dumas said. He emphasized that going to a farmers market is an “organic process.” Patrons are walking on grass and meeting the people who produced the product they’re purchasing. They can ask questions and there’s a sense of connectivity.

The Peterborough Farmers Market runs from April to December. They set up outside of the Community Center on Elm Street during the warmer months. Once it gets colder, they move into the indoor space. The vendors switch around a bit, but Dumas said, “Quite a few of our vendors have a product line that can be made year-round.” He and his wife Ellen own Ten Talents at La Bergerie Dumas in Greenfield, where they raise sheep for wool and freeze lamb meat into winter. 

The Dumases have also attended the Greenfield Farmers and Crafters Market as vendors when they’ve had time this summer. The Greenfield market was new this year. It was started through the Oak Park Committee, and committee Chair Dave Thimmel was one of the founders. He hopes to “revive the old-school local market” environment. And like Dumas, he believes every community should have a farmers market. 

“It’s a way to help sustain a local economy, promote community engagement, provide families with healthy food,” he said.

Next year, they plan to add a flea market and yard sale component.

“2023 is going to be huge,” Thimmel said. 

Hancock’s farmers market returned this year after a few years off. 

“We were incredibly pleased with how the 2022 season went,” said Jessica Quinn, chair of the Hancock Recreation Committee and one of the managers of the market. “From what we observed and the feedback we received from vendors and customers alike, it was a huge success.”

The market ran on Thursday nights on the common, overlapping with the concert series in the gazebo. Quinn said that pairing went well, as people were able to visit vendors then set up a space to sit and listen to the music. 

“It may be a bit cliche, but the market really did create an opportunity for the community to gather and spend time together,” Quinn said.

And Quinn said the vendors were pleased with the season. 

“Hosting a farmers market, especially one that features hyper-local vendors, can help build community appreciation for what local farmers and producers are able to offer,” Quinn said.

Blackfire Farm had a vegetable stand and it pizza truck at the Hancock Farmers Market. Liz White, who owns the farm with her partner Doug Higley, was thrilled with the season. 

“It was clear that the community was hungry for food grown by their neighbors right in town,” White said. 

The Peterborough Farmers Market will continue until December on Wednesdays from 3 to 6 p.m. at the community center. It will move inside in October. 

The Greenfield Farmers Market will be open for its final dates of the season Sundays Sept. 25, Oct. 2 and Oct. 9 from noon to 3 p.m. at Oak Park. 

The Hancock Farmers Market’s 2022 season has ended and will resume again  next year. 

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