By Michelle Murdock, Contributing Writer
Region – With the winter months finally behind us, area residents are now focused on summer activities and for many, it's time to experience the fun and adventure of the local farmers’ market. Opening day for the Westborough Farmers’ Market took place in early June and the newly formed Shrewsbury Farmers’ Market will open for the first time in early July.
“Opening day was fantastic and exceeded expectations,” said Dave McMahon of the Westborough Farmers’ Market. “The weather held out, and despite it being a cloudy day, the community showed up by the hundreds to support the local farms and artisans. It was a great start to the season.”
In Westborough, many of the same core vendors are back this year: Globe Fish, Yummy Mummy Brownies, Mugford's Flowers, Harvey, Nourse, Dismas Family Farm, Heirloom Harvest Farm, Five Loaves Bakery and Crystal Brook Cheeses. New vendors are also planned throughout the season and will include Omega Olive Oil, Carr's Cider House and Ackermann Maple Syrup.
“We are also working to bring a food truck for the lunch crowd,” said McMahon.
Now in its fourth season, the Westborough Farmers’ Market crowd has been growing each year, according to McMahon. With free crafts tables for the kids and music for all, every week brings new families to the market.
Bernadette Markey of Hopkinton has been going to the Westborough Farmers’ Market since 2011 when it first opened and was there on opening day.
“Growing up in Northborough, Westborough is very familiar to me and I was thrilled to have another local farmers market open up,” Markey said. “I love the whole farm-to-table concept, and when it's local, even
more so. The organic kale, lettuces, and berries that you can get from Harvey's, Dismas, and Heirloom Harvest are wonderful and incredibly fresh. Nothing like it. But I's also drawn to Five Loaves Bakery with their yummy scones and country bread – amazing.? My kids love the Farmers” Market, too, especially Yummy Mummy Brownies which are incredible!”
The Westborough Farmers’ Market was started by the co-directors of Dismas House, McMahon and Colleen Hilferty, and is held every Thursday from 12 to 6 p.m. at the Evangelical Congregational Church, 57 W. Main St., through the end of September.
“At the farm, formerly homeless men work hard year round and grow vegetables, raise animals, collect eggs, work in the woodshop, and hay in the fields to make the farm a success,” McMahon said. “The Westborough Farmers’ Market helps to support our farm, builds a fun local event in Westborough for families, and acts as a means to sustain the local agricultural landscape.”
And starting this summer, the residents of Shrewsbury, who often attended the markets in Westborough, Worcester or Grafton, will also have their own farmers’ market to attend.
“It seemed to be on everyone's wish list for the town, and I mean everyone,” said Missy Hollenback, who is heading up the effort in Shrewsbury.
Hollenback, originally from a farming community in Pennsylvania, had talked about a Shrewsbury Farmers’ Market with State Rep. Matthew Beaton a few years ago, but it wasn's until the Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen created a zoning bylaw last year that would allow one that plans began to move forward.
Hollenback attended a farmer's market management class offered by the Mass. Department of Agriculture and a steering committee was created. The members of the committee included Angela Snell, Kara Frankian, Melissa Pratt, Amy Oddo, John Lebeaux, Beaton, Matthew Karas, Susan Cappucci, Jennifer Beaton, John Masiello and Mackenzie May of Stone's Throw Farm in Boylston, who will act as market manager.
The Shrewsbury Farmers” Market will open Wednesday, July 9, from 3 to 6:30 p.m. at the Ski Ward, 1000 Main St., through September 10. From September 17 to October 15, the market will be held Wednesday afternoons from 2 to 5:30 p.m. Participants include Clearview Farm of Sterling, Elzire's Acres of Princeton, and Spring Ridge and Stone's Throw Farm, both of Boylston.
“At this point, we are not allowed to have crafts unless it is something created from agricultural material, such as a hand-knit wool sweater from sheep wool,” Hollenback said. “Next year, I would like to see it expanded to include crafts and other similar handmade items, but our focus will always be on eating fresh and local.”