Farmers markets are sprouting up all over Vermont
By Nathaniel Gibson
Celebrate National Farmers Market Week in August by visiting your nearby farmers market – all autumn long. Luckily, you won’t have far to go.
Farmers markets are sprouting like wonderful flowers across Vermont to meet the growing demand for fresh, local food products.
The trend is reflected nationwide as well: from 2009 to 2010, the number of farmers markets across the country grew by an estimated 16 percent. Farmers markets not only offer food and quality crafts; they also provide entertainment and build community.
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture’s Web site lists 77 farmers markets statewide.
Some, such as the Hartland Farmers Market, are relative newcomers. Founded in 2010, it is open 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. every Friday and offers seasonal veggies — green beans, carrots, rainbow chard, to name just a few — plus farm-raised beef, baked goods, local cheeses and specialty-cut flowers.
Picnic tables are available where visitors can sample the fare and listen to live music. In keeping with the theme of sustainability that runs through all Vermont farmers markets, a local company offers recycling pickups at the market.
Organizer Sharon Irwin attributes the Hartland market’s growth to word of mouth and lots of community support. The market attracts a mix of local residents, people from neighboring communities and out-of-state visitors. “The town and community have both been really supportive of it,” she says. “It’s great to see people coming to hang out with their neighbors and friends.”
Other new farmers markets have taken root in Lyndonville (Fridays, 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.), Castleton (Thursdays, 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.), and Pawlet (Fridays, 3:00 p.m. to 6 p.m.).
Many of these newcomers are offshoots of the state’s larger, well-established farmers markets.
The downtown Rutland Farmers Market is the biggest — with over 90 vendors selling a huge variety of food and crafts. These include seasonal fruits and produce, local honey, fresh eggs, artisan cheese, flowers, pickled vegetables, jams, and pies and more.
The Rutland Farmers Market is open two days per week. It operates from May 7 to October 29 on Saturdays (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and Tuesdays (3 p.m. to 6 p.m.). The market is a collaborative effort of the Rutland County Farmers’ Market and the Vermont Farmers Market, whose members have watched it grow steadily over the years.
“It’s been a good thing for the vendors, a good thing for the city, and a good thing for the customers,” says Judy Dark, one of the organizers, noting that in addition to supporting local farmers and craftspeople the market encourages people to come out and interact with the downtown area.
Beyond a core contingent of local customers who loyally support their favorite vendors, the market also attracts visitors from out of state. Dark has fielded calls from people planning trips from Massachusetts and metropolitan New York who want to know if the market will be open when they visit.
Other well-established markets are in Burlington (Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.), Montpelier (Saturdays, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.), and Fair Haven (Fridays, 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.).
For more information visit the Vermont Agency of Agriculture’s Web site at www.vermontagriculture.com/buylocal/buy/farmersmarkets.
Nathaniel Gibson is a freelance writer and locavore who lives in Pawlet. He can be contacted via www.nathanielrgibson.com.
The article originally appeared in the Late Summer 2011 edition of the Rutland Regional Vermont Insider Guide.