By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Hudson – Rarely would a shrinking footprint be good news for an annual public event. But that’s exactly what’s happening with the Hudson Farmers’ Market according to organizers.
Indeed in their third year overseeing the event, organizers are ecstatic about the market’s current place and future within the community even as they offer fewer vendors than ever before.
“We don’t feel the need to have a lot of vendors as long as we have good quality vendors and as long as we have a good range of vendors,” said market organizer Pam Helinek. “We want to be a one stop shop for people wanting fresh food and we feel that we are offering that now.”
This year’s market will offer everything from bread, to wine, to meats, and fresh fruits and vegetables among other items. Running on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., the market will take place on the lawn of the Unitarian Universalist Church for much of the summer due to ongoing construction that will make last year’s home on the town hall front lawn temporarily unusable.
The smaller-then-ever vendor list this year is the result of that very move. With only 12 spots, the 2019 lineup will be six names shorter than the 2018 one and significantly smaller than the 30 vendor market from 2017 held in the nearby Avidia Bank parking lot.
But even now, Helinek and fellow organizer, Kelli Calo, remain confident that they made the right choice moving the market from that original location to its new homes on the town hall and church lawns.
“Much as we were grateful to Avidia Bank for letting us use their parking lot that first year, the front lawns are so much more visible and inviting,” Helinek said.
While things like size and location may be the most noticeable changes this year, they are hardly, however, the only ones.
In addition to a returning live music program from the 2017 market, this year’s market seeks to educate and become more inclusive.
Organizers say they’re excited to bring in a wellness coach from Wellness Refocused Coaching as part of this effort. That partnership will feature coach Cristina Picozzi discussing the nuances of healthy eating with shoppers and distributing recipes that utilize the fresh foods sold at the market.
Likewise, the market has partnered with one of their vendors, Oakdale Farm, to ensure that booth will accept EBT, Snap and WIC food vouchers, ideally making the market more accessible to the local low income community.
“[The market food is] fresh, whereas a lot of grocery stores take their produce from various parts of the world.” Calo said. “So to be able to offer these products to those individuals and to be able to offer them in a way they can afford is important.”
Altogether, this year’s market is smaller than ever before. But it has also grown, according to its founders, in ways that the simple number of vendors cannot quantify. It’s steadily attracted more and more shoppers, they say, even prompting at least two local businesses to change their Tuesday hours to capitalize on foot traffic to and from the market. Meanwhile, market products themselves, Calo noted, have diversified even as the market itself has shrunk in size.
With their market now three years old, Calo, Helinek and other supporters are hoping those changes are enough to cement a spot for the event within Hudson.
“We’ve been told by a few people that it takes a few years for a farmers’ market to get established. So if we can last these first few years and succeed, especially now that more people are noticing us, we’re hoping we can continue to grow.”