Forecast dampens turnout, official burlap snip postponed to this week
BY VOICE STAFF
The Pelham Farmers’ Market kicked off its 15th year last Thursday afternoon, with a dark forecast dampening turnout but doing nothing to blot the optimism of the organizing committee.
Chair Stacey Duncan was on hand with market clerk and former chair Fred Arbour, along with current committee member Bev Yungblut. The three elected to postpone the ceremonial cutting of the burlap until this week, when they hoped more vendors would be present.
“I think the rain scared everyone off,” said Duncan, whose business Nature’s Corner bakery has had a stall at the market for several years.
Arbour, formerly of Klager’s deli, has been a part of the market since its inception.
“I heard they were having a meeting about a market with mostly organic stuff,” said Arbour. “Someone suggested that we sell meat there, so we brought a barbecue. Then they said we should be frying onions, and soon it was two portable barbecues, and then three.”
Arbour recalled that at the beginning, selling 45 or 50 units a night was considered a good evening. By the time he hung up the tongs, three years ago, he was selling between 450 and 500.
“It would’ve been great if I were thirty-five or forty. On a normal Thursday I’d start at 6:00 and get home at 10:30 or 11:00.”
Anne Durst of Bri-Anne Farms in Fenwick, the last of the market’s original vendors, was selling preserves on Thursday.
Durst said that the market hasn’t changed too much, though at its beginning there were only farmers selling their products. This year the market has 23 vendors, a handful of which are new.
“We have to keep fifty percent farmers, or else we’re no longer a farmers’ market. We’d just be a market,” said Duncan.
One of this year’s new vendors, Misha Reed, was selling micro-greens to shoppers on Thursday. Reed and her business partner Ann Canning-LeBlanc operate their farm in Ridgeway, and have previously sold at a farmers’ market there.
“We’ll have edible flowers, infused vinegars, beer mustard, granola, infused salts,” she said. “What I have today isn’t much, because I only make things with stuff that we grow. I don’t buy from others. So once I sell out, I’m sold out.”
Bev Yungblut, who sells grape juice at the market, said that other new stalls at the market are a strudel-seller, someone with soaps, and a cidery.
“People can just take a little sample of the cider, just like the wine,” said Yungblut. “Then they have to take the bottle home. They can open in right away.”
When the Thursday night supper market and bandshell concerts begin later this year, a portion of the area will be gated off and licensed, where alcohol can be consumed.
On May 24, Yungblut said, the market will be giving away seeds to a new strain of white pumpkin, called SPECTER.
“It’s part of our ‘Kids Can Grow’ program. We’ve done it for a few years—we give kids the seeds and a pot to show them how to start it off. Then they come back with their results in September,” she said.
The species SPECTER is expected to grow a lot of warts.
“Maybe there could be a competition for the wartiest pumpkin,” said Yungblut to Duncan.
“You can count the warts.”