Stephanie Farrington On: 04:38PM / Friday March 09, 2012
North Adams Farmers' Market members met Saturday at Mass MoCA to plan out this year's market.
The North Adams Farmers' Market is getting a head start this year.
On Saturday, March 3, organizers of the market met with potential vendors to discuss plans for this year's market.
The meeting was chaired by Market Manager Diana Cirillo and convened by North Adams Director of Tourism and Community Events Veronica Bosley.
A number of issues facing the market were discussed. This year, the market will carry only products that are grown and made by vendors. There will be a restriction on crafts in order to focus on farm produce and home-made goods from around the region.
Eleven potential vendors were in attendance, including Square Roots Farm, Jaeschke's Orchard, Country Dreams Farm and Cricket Creek Farm.
Debate on several issues was heated. In the end, the group settled on a $10 weekly fee and plans to expand the present available methods of payment to include credit and debit cards as well as cash and SNAP benefit cards.
The group decided to look at planning one or two special weeks during which a combination Farmers' Market and Flea Market may be held as well as making it clear that this year, there will be no canceled dates.
"I remember when we were canceled for Wilco," said one farmer, "You know, that doesn't work for me. I can't go out into the field and tell the corn to stop growing for a week cause the market's been canceled."
Maryanne Kufs, who runs the EBT machine, responsible for accepting electronic payments and managing coupons and SNAP benefits, said the grant from Wholesome Wave that made it possible to give double dollars to SNAP beneficiaries who use their cards at the market was coming to an end, but there is some money left in the account and other grants are presently being sought to continue the program.
Unlike last year, this year's market marks a return of sorts to its roots. The first North Adams Farmers' Market was held in 1976, initiated by the Chamber of Commerce as part of the Fall Festival of Foliage. This year, the market will be governed by the tourism director, who will seek advice from a volunteer-appointed board made up of individuals from the community, all of whom have an interest in supporting access to local food.
Those wishing to sell baked or canned goods at the market will need a permit from City Hall. And anyone who packages food on-site is required by Massachusetts law to be certified Serve Safe. Fortunately, Greg Roach of Wild Oats Co-Operative Market, a member of the Market Advisory Board, is qualified and will be available to administer the Serve Safe exam at a considerable savings. Greg may be contacted at Wild Oats.
For further questions about this year's market or to ask for a copy of the rules, email Veronica Bosley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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That's too bad, and a disappointment. I have been to dozens of Farmers Markets from North Adams to Los Angeles, and they all had a handmade crafts and art aspect to them. Just last week,I was at an absolutely amazing Farmer/Artist market in a small town in Florida, and there were over 60 vendors, live musicians, and over 400 shoppers. I bought produce, a photograph,and a piece of jewelry. The vibe was fantastic. Also, the market was not cancelled Wilco weekend, they were asked to move to the Eagle St. market for 1 day only as parking was needed for the guests of the city, that spent millions of dollars here...the farmers refused! I guess cultivating crops, not relationships, or more business is what they're good at.
Why can't the farmers market become a destination, instead of a handful of farmers. It doesn't have to become a "flea market", or rummage sale. It could limit the goods being sold to 100% handmade, and nothing store bought. What should happen is simply another "Art/Craft" market at the opposite end of the parking lot. That would work, as obviously the farmers don't want to play nice with others. Add that, some music, better RT 2 signage, and bam...weekend destination.