Farmers Markets Most Every Day In Region

Front Page / Aug. 6, 2009 12:00am EDT

By Hannah Becker

Farmers Markets Most Every Day In Region By Hannah Becker

As the weather begins to improve and summer is knocking on our doors, more and more Vermonters are making it out to local farmer’s markets, where coordinators are looking to salvage the season.

Farmers markets are known for bringing fresh, local produce and meats to customers. With more and more Vermonters noticing where their food is being produced and what chemicals are being added, the trend to “buy local” is catching on.

The White River Valley boasts no fewer than five farmer’s markets on four different days of the week:

• Randolph (Saturday mornings);

• Bethel (Monday afternoons 3-6);

• Royalton (Thursday afternoons 3-6:30);

• Rochester (Saturday mornings until 1 p.m.); and

• Randolph Center (Wednesdays 3:30-6:30).

Joshua Bushrod Powers, the market coordinator for Royalton (and a potato vendor,) estimates his market sees about 100 to 140 customers a week.

“We don’t have a lot of tourist traffic, but mostly local people who come to buy fresh produce.”

The Royalton market plays host to 20-25 vendors per week on Thursday afternoons from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. These vendors don’t just show up, they go through an application process and attend an organizational meeting before the season. The vendor’s fee is $50 for an entire season.

These fees seem minimal, but many vendors attend more than one market, and the cost can add up, he noted.

“Anyone can become a vendor if they want to apply before the organizational meeting,” Powers said, “After that the existing vendors vote someone new in. Usually most people will be able to get in.”

“The organizational meeting is to discuss the marketing program, the organizational aspects of the market, and the bylaws we operate under,” Powers explained. “The goal of the market is for vendors to expand their horizons and sell to local people.”

It’s no secret the weather has not been friendly this summer, and the large amounts of rain have had an effect on the local markets.

“The weather certainly keeps away customers on a lousy day,” Powers said. “The weather has also had an effect on the products vendors are selling. Some of the products have been coming in later than usual and we are faced with this tomato and potato blight.”

Many of the vendors at these markets also participate in the Farm to Family program, which provides coupons to low-income families. The coupons can be used at about 50 participating markets throughout Vermont to purchase fresh produce and meat. Qualifying families receive $30 in coupons, issued on a first come, first served basis.

“Most of our vegetable vendors participate in the program,” Powers noted.

You’d be surprised at what you can find at farmers markets.

The Bethel Farmer’s Market, held Mondays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. next to the White Church on Route 12, has vendors selling everything from home made jewelry and home spun yarn, to a lemonade stand run by elementary age kids.

The Randolph market has the same diversity, with products such as tie-dye t-shirts and lawn ornaments among the top sellers.

Despite the poor summer weather and tomato blight, the markets are still doing well.

“I would say we are on an average pace this season,” Powers said, “we’ve had better years, but this year is about average.

“The vendors are comfortable. We could always use more vendors and more customers to improve the market.”

These local markets will wrap up around Columbus Day.

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