We’ve had a number of community members ask “Where are the farmers and what’s happening with the farmers market?” We want to share a bit more of what’s been going on behind the scenes this year.
The Ashmont Farmers Market is in its 11th season. Over the past 6 years we’ve been partnered with Spring Brook Farm as our anchor vendor, which provided us with a very diversified bounty of farm fresh produce, eggs, farm raised meats, jams, honey, etc. Because of your support in shopping at the market weekly, they’ve done quite well here and expressed every intention to return again this year. Unfortunately, in April we were informed by the farm manager that they would not be returning. It is our understanding from them that even though they’ve done well, they didn’t have the staffing capacity to maintain having a market on Friday evening in Dorchester and also continue their Saturday early morning market in Waltham too. This saddened us deeply, but we also understood the constraints caused by traveling over an hour each way to sell here, and then needing to fit in picking and packing time on top of that.
With this information, our Farmers Market Manager, Joy Gary, reached out to about 50 different farmers within the region, either directly or through farmer listservs, to see if anyone had the interest and capacity to partner with us this season. Spring Brook gave us an excellent reference to anyone who expressed any interest at all. Though a few farmers had produce availability that could support our market, the general response from all of the farmers contacted was that they did not have the staffing to host another market this season and many were struggling to find staffing for their current markets. Several have asked to be considered as our main vendor for next year, but that doesn’t solve the immediate dilemma.
In the scale of the agricultural calendar, April is very late to approach farmers about adding a summer farmers market to their roster. Market schedules, seed orders, and planting plans are generally completed during the winter. Spring time is field prep time. And this year most farmers were so stressed about cold and wetness of the season and their delay in planting such that there wasn’t much capacity to think about adding on another sales outlet. These weather conditions also affected our specialty produce vendor, Sibling Organic Farm, delaying his arrival to market for a little over a month.
What are we doing to change this?
- We are continuing to reach out to farmers and offering staffing support if they have the production quantities and quality to sell with us.
- We have requested help from the City of Boston Office of Food Access and Mass Farmers Markets to rally support for this year and partner with us in strategizing for the 2020 season.
- The Food Project will join us at this week’s market, Friday, August 9, as a pop-up vendor on a similar scale to Spring Brook last year, two tents worth of diverse Massachusetts grown bounty. Our hope is that the demand they see from the community for a large farm vendor this week, and our offer of further staffing assistance may be enough to bring them on board as an ongoing vendor for the rest of the season.
What can you do?
- Help us continue to make Ashmont Farmers Market a thriving market by patronizing and spreading the word about our high quality vendors:
- Stony Creek Farm offers eggs, honey, grassfed beef, lamb, and goat
- Sibling Organic will return August 16 after attending a family funeral this week, and will continue to feature Asian/Caribbean specialty greens and many of the favorites we love like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, scallions, and fresh herbs.
- George’s Bakery Products are sold by our volunteers, featuring savory and sweet breads (like cranberry orange ginger loaf), bagels, and sweet treats from a variety of bakeries in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
- The Tacos Don Beto foodtruck is here with Mexican offerings to start your weekend menu
- Our rotating specialty vendors, which include Leah’s Gourmet Sauces and Bobby Mac’s Knife Sharpening, as well as a host of community resources tables, will continue to make appearances throughout the season.
- We have a wonderful free concert series every week at the market from some of the best musicians in Boston. Come enjoy their amazing talent, the summer weather, and some of our lawn games while we continue to create vibrancy in Peabody Square
- Consider volunteering to help with set up, breakdown, or during the market itself.
Greater Ashmont Main Street is committed to the Ashmont Farmers Market and to maintaining and further developing our district for our culturally diverse population. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further questions or feedback, or find our staff at the market on Fridays through October 18.