By Aaron Retherford
Saturday, May 16 marks opening day of the Barre Farmers Market as it returns to the Vermont Granite Museum (7 Jones Brother Way) for the second straight year.
Market manager Joann Darling has big plans to encourage attendees on the first day with two children’s events, “My Veggie Patch” and the “Garden Poetry Contest”.
If that’s not exciting enough, fans of the Barre Farmers Market will have twice as many opportunities to enjoy the local food, goods, and good times this year as the market will also be open Wednesdays.
The Saturday market will appeal to farmers market traditionalists, those who like to make a day of perusing farmers markets. The Barre Farmers Market will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 17.
However, there was enough interest in bringing back a Wednesday market that the Board decided to hold one each week from 3-7 p.m. Darling is thinking of ways to promote the mid-week market and said she hopes to encourage state workers who commute to work to make a habit of stopping by the Wednesday markets before heading home.
Last year, in its first year back at the Vermont Granite Museum – after a long stint downtown – a total of 41 vendors participated in the market at some point in the season. Darling expects an average of 30-32 vendors during the peak summer season this year. And while the Burlington Farmers Market and Capital City Farmers Market in Montpelier are the highly sought after locations for vendors, Darling said she’s excited for the potential of the Barre Farmers Market due to the available parking and visibility – despite it being outside the realm of the city. Most marketing research says farmers markets should be held downtown.
“It has the potential to grow as big if not larger than Montpelier because we do have a bigger space,” Darling said.
Darling has plans to help lead that growth. Every month, there will be a special event at one of the Saturday markets. Most are geared toward families and children. For opening day, Vermont Compost, High Mowing Seeds, the now-defunct Barre Community Gardens at Metro Way, and Agway made donations so kids can plant a six-pack of seeds and bring them home in order to watch them grow. Also, kids ages 8-14 can enter the Garden Poetry Contest for free. The winners will come back on June 13 to read their poems.
On June 20, a solstice celebration like last year will be held with music, face painting, and a cooking demo for children called “Eating the Rainbow”, which is centered around eating colorful vegetables.
In July, there will be a pet appreciation day, and in August, there will be a youth market where kids will be allowed to sell their own goods. The last special event of the season will be the Harvest Festival in September.
Darling said each vendor was asked to present something on a Saturday, so there will be some great educational pieces throughout the summer. Representatives from Capstone will demonstrate the weatherization program, and Granite City Grocery will host several events.
“Farmers markets are about community, connections with your neighbor, supporting local economy, and it’s a place for families and their children to learn about healthy eating habits,” Darling said.
The Barre Farmers Market accepts EBT and debit cards. For more details about the market, check out its website at http://www.barrefarmersmarketvt.com/.