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Customers drop in to the Windswept Farm booth on Saturday.
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Rosin and Beaux performs Saturday at the Williamstown Farmers Market.
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A transaction is made at the Mighty Food Farm booth.

Food, Family Atmosphere, Fiddles at Williamstown Farmers Market

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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The market has grown in size and traffic.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Six years after a steering committee took control of the Williamstown Farmers Market, the seasonal venue is going stronger than ever.
 
On Saturday morning, nearly 30 vendors offered everything from freshly picked apples to fresh-baked treats to hand-crafted wooden bowls.
 
The near-capacity crowd of vendors attracted community members, Williams College students and tourists to the municipal lot at the bottom Spring Street — not to park but to partake in the region's bounty.
 
"Since 2012, the number of vendors has at least doubled," steering committee member Anne Hogeland said. "Our mission is to respond to the community's desire for diverse, local food offerings in a place that's a vibrant destination on Saturdays."
 
Saturday mornings from May through October are about local produce in Williamstown's downtown.
 
And the market's growth reflects the diversity and growth of what area farms have to offer.
 
The Williamstown Farmers Market welcomed six new vendors this year, including three — Williamstown's Bigfoot Farm; Stephentown, N.Y.'s, Grateful Greens; and local food truck Cornucopia — that are in their first year of operation.
 
Grateful Greens is a "chemical-free microgreens" operation. Bigfoot, which is operated by a former food truck operator, grows everything from artichokes to sweet potatoes in South Williamstown. Cornucopia offers unique farm-to-table fare for breakfast, brunch or lunch, depending on when visitors come to the market, which runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
 
"Cornucopia sources from a lot of our vendors," Hogeland said. "Today they're serving meat from East Mountain Farm and fruit from Windswept Farm and others. They note that on their menu.
 
"And all those relationships developed over the course of the season here at the farmers market, which is exciting."
 
Most of the vendors — about three-quarters — are signed up for the full season at the market, Hogeland said. Some came on during the season after their specific crops started to come in.
 
Of course, some of the purveyors are not so time-sensitive. In addition to fresh vegetables from Peace Valley Farm, which has been a staple at the market since it opened in 1981, visitors can pick up honey from Florida's Busy Bee, maple products from Williamstown's Sweet Brook Farm or even non-food items like woolen goods from Heritage Artisans or mugs and bowls from Hogeland's own Berkshire Mountain Pottery.
 
"We're about as full as we want to be," said Leslie Reed Evans, another member of the market's steering committee. "But there are some niches we'd like to fill. For example, we don't have a bread baker. We have some people selling baked goods but not locally baked bread.
 
"The non-food items all have a connection to the area. The wood used is locally sourced or the fiber arts have an agricultural connection. We don't want to be a craft market. We want to be a farmers market. But we want to have a balance."
 
The organizers also want to create a weekly event to keep visitors coming back.
 
Through a grant from the Fund for Williamstown, the market has acquired picnic tables with umbrellas for patrons to stop and dine or just socialize and enjoy the live music at the market each week.
 
That music this past Saturday included a two-hour concert by Rosin and Beaux, a monthly feature at the venue, and the Williamstown Farmers market debut of Cafe Budapest.
 
"The music creates a nice atmosphere," Hogeland said. "It's grown over the years. We had two Williamstown Theatre Festival performances at the market this summer: one by their Community Works company and one by their apprentices."
 
More about the Williamstown Farmers Market is available at williamstownfarmersmarket.org.

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Mount Greylock School Committee Votes Down Remote Learning Start to School Year

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Two months of input and advice from Mount Greylock’s working groups looking at the reopening of school were undone in four hours of discussion by the School Committee on Thursday night.

On a 6-1 vote, the committee directed interim superintendent Robert Putnam to submit to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education a radically different plan for the start of the year that moves more children into the school building more quickly than the administration was recommending.
 
Subject to approval by DESE and, not insignificantly, collective bargaining with the district’s unions, there will be no two-week period of fully remote learning as Putnam was proposing.
 
Putnam went into Thursday’s meeting with plans based on input from groups established in the spring and summer by him and his predecessor with the goal of getting the School Committee's blessing for the plan he has to submit to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on Friday.
 
Putnam laid out a plan largely like the one he presented in a virtual town hall on Tuesday evening and told the School Committee he was looking for guidance.
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