Upper Valley Farmers Markets in Full Swing with Summer
‘Nothing as Cool as This’
Linda Callison of Out of Chaos Handmade Jewelry and Wind Chimes helps fourteen-year-olds Stefani Dami, right, and Lily Bailey, both of Scituate, Mass., pick out anklets at the Canaan Farmers' Market in Canaan, N.H., on July 6, 2014. The market runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays until October 12. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
Michael Danilowicz sells produce at a booth for Fred's Farm in South Alexandria, N.H., at the Canaan Farmers' Market in Canaan, N.H., on July 6, 2014. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
Locally-grown radishes from Autumn Harvest Farm and Quilt Studio in Grafton, N.H., wait to be sold at the Canaan Farmers' Market in Canaan, N.H., on July 6, 2014. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
Canaan — The mood on Canaan’s Village Green was festive Sunday with bright sun shining and music playing as farmers market shoppers passed between two rows of vendors.
Enfield resident Renée Talcott was thwarted in her quest for a tomato at Canaan’s market, but she did find a new — to her, anyway — variety of radish. The veggie had a tall green stem and a long white root, presumably the origin of its name. She said she was eager to try it.
By shopping at the region’s farmers markets throughout the summer, Talcott said, “I don’t have to buy much produce in the grocery store.”
The region boasts more than 20 similar opportunities to purchase and sell homegrown and homemade foods and crafts each week, according to the Valley Food & Farm Guide.
Clara and Andy Petrisko, Grafton residents meandering through Canaan’s market on Sunday, said the region’s farmers markets are a step up from those in their native Houston, Texas.
“There’s nothing as cool as this,” said Andy Petrisko, pointing to a jar of mango-peach jam in the couple’s shopping bag.
“There’s more out here as far as organic,” said Clara Petrisko.
Linda Callison, who sells jewelry and other crafts made from re-purposed items under the label Out of Chaos, said this year’s markets have been quiet.
Callison attributed slower business to the long winter delaying the start of the growing season and to a delayed end to the school year due to a high number of snow days.
She also said there were fewer other jewelry vendors this year. Without much choice, she said, people may be discouraged from buying.
On the positive side, however, summer seemed to be in full swing on Sunday.
“Today’s busier than it has been,” Callison said .
Lori and Robin Gowing of the Canaan-based Lori Has Layers displayed pint boxes of peas as well as pies, zucchini breads, jam and wooden crafts, including a picnic table and a growing box. The Gowing’s featured product, however, is their eggs.
They started coming to the market three years ago to sell extra eggs, Robin Gowing said.
They’ve continued, in part, because they enjoy s ocializing with friends and neighbors, said Lori Gowing .
“It’s a fun way to hang out on a Sunday,” she said.
The market has grown this year with the addition of new products such as a Thai food vendor. Having a diversity of items for sale helps to attract more customers, said Gowing.
Also new this year is the Canaan market’s acceptance of debit cards as well as benefits through the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, Gowing said.
Joanna Carr, president of the nonprofit, Friends of Canaan Village, that sponsors the farmers market, said adding the Electronic Benefits Transfer for shoppers who qualify is “really valuable.”
Carr said the area “doesn’t really have a grocery store,” so increasing the availability of fresh produce is particularly important.
Across the river and up Interstate 91, another community gathered around food and crafts on Sunday.
The Bradford Farmers Market filled the lawn in front of the Bradford Academy building with soaps, maple syrup, lettuce and a wide selection of meats.
Despite the variety of items, however, customers appeared to be few and far between.
One of the market’s managers Emily Perry attributed the slow day to the market’s switch from Saturdays to Sundays this year.
Perry said the market had previously had trouble attracting vendors on Saturdays because several area growers join the throng of more than 50 vendors at the Norwich Farmers Market.
For example, Jake Torrey of Honey Locust Farm in Bradford said the switch to Sundays allows him to go to Norwich.
He said that while the revenue at Bradford’s smaller market is lower, the five minute drive from his farm to the academy building means the food is “truly local.”
Now that the market is able to find more vendors, the challenge is bringing in customers.
In order to do so, Perry said the group is “making it more of a community event.”
New this year is Colatina Exit Restaurant with prepared Italian food for sale and Perry said the market plans to feature music by area musicians in the future.
Bradford vendors did not seem discouraged by the dearth of customers.
At a small market, Steele Johnson of Cold Mountain Ranch said, vendors “work through” slow days.
Johnson sat behind a table displaying beef, goats milk soap, lotions, jam, eggs and fresh garlic scape pesto.
He offered samples of the pesto, which he described as a “nice, summery snack.”
Kyra Harris and her fiancé Adam Grenier stopped in front of Johnson’s table to sample it.
“Mmmm,” said Harris. “That’s really good!”
She and Grenier purchased a container.
Harris, a Bradford-native, said that there is a nice farmers market near her home in Boston’s South End, but she said “it’s nicer to have Vermont local, than Massachusetts local.”
The Canaan market takes place at the intersections of routes 4 and 118, Sundays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Bradford’s market takes place on the lawn in front of the Bradford Academy building on Main Street, Sundays, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Both markets run through mid-October.
Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at email@example.com .