Berkshire Grown Gearing Up for Holiday Markets
Market organizers are seeking farmers and food producers interested in selling locally grown food and food products with a focus on educating the consumer about local sources.
The Holiday Farmers' Markets began in 2009 with two locations the weekend before Thanksgiving. Given demand for winter markets, Berkshire Grown hosted four markets in 2010, adding the weekend before Christmas as a second economic opportunity for the food and farming community. This year, the organization will be producing four markets again.
The markets have been a major achievement for Berkshire Grown, with more than 4,400 people attending them in 2010, during which vendors generated more than $80,000 in sales. There were 64 vendors at the November markets and 72 vendors at the December markets, which attracted more people than the best-attended Berkshire-based farmers' market during the summer. The markets welcomed 2,100-plus attendees in 2009 and are showing significant economic impact as the events grow. "Wildly beyond expectations," was how one of the vendors described their experience in a postmarket survey.
The markets are designed to create new opportunities for farmers and food producers to increase sales of locally produced and preserved agricultural products, which helps the local economy. The Holiday Farmers' Markets connect farmers and food producers directly with members of the community, strengthening the Berkshire Grown farm-to-table network.
Vendors offer produce, cheese, eggs, meat, poultry, bread, pies and other baked goods, plus pickles and jams. The December markets will include local craft vendors for holiday shoppers. Entertainment will be presented at both venues and pre-order pickups will be available.
In Great Barrington, the markets will be held in Muddy Brook Elementary School's gymnasium on Monument Valley Road and in Williamstown at the Williams College Towne Field House on Latham Street. All four markets will run from 10 to 2.
As part of Williams' ongoing commitment to sustainable food and local agriculturehttp://sustainability.williams.edu., the college is co-sponsoring the markets by donating the Williamstown venue as well as providing funding toward the event. The college's Sustainable Food and Agriculture Program and the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives is supporting the markets as a community partnership to further incorporate the principles of sustainability into the fabric of campus life.
In addition to Williams, the premier sponsor for the markets is the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce; other market sponsors include Berkshire Co-op Market, Berkshire Organics, BlueQ, Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Mezze Restaurant Group, Sweet Brook Farm and The Red Lion Inn.
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