Hudson Farmers’ Market going strong after five years, looks to expand

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By Justin Roshak, Contributing Writer

A banner waves customers towards a past iteration of the Hudson Farmers Market in 2019. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

HUDSON – The Hudson Farmers’ Market was able to expand during the pandemic. Now, it’s looking to round out its vendors as it moves through its fifth year in operation. 

The market was founded by town officials Pam Helinek and Kelli Calo who wrote the grant that successfully funded its first year of operation.

The first farmers’ market hosted some 30 vendors in the Avidia Bank parking lot behind the Town Hall. 

In its second year, Sarah Cressy took over as coordinator. She moved the market to the front of the Town Hall, critically into view from downtown. Since then, the market has been held every summer on Tuesdays, rain or shine. 

The market focuses on local food for local tables. 

“You have to make it, grow it, or produce it within a 75-mile radius,” Cressy explained. 

The market was able to run through the COVID-19 pandemic because food and markets were classified as essential services. Indeed, it was able to expand as the winter and spring saw two new “shoulder season” markets

“It was really a pleasure doing it because people wanted some place to go that was safe and a little fun,” Cressy recalled. She plans to repeat the supplementary markets this coming winter and spring. 

Live music, usually a feature of the market, was canceled in 2020. But it returned this summer thanks to a partnership with the Hudson Cultural Council. 

The market’s produce vendors also now accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) “food stamp” dollars. The market sees about 15 to 20 SNAP users every week, Cressy said. 

Further, the market now features a fishmonger and a new orchard vendor. 

Cressy is currently in talks with a fisherman from New Hampshire who sells lobsters and crabs, and an Indian restaurant from Northborough. Ethnic food is an arena in which she’d like to expand the market’s offerings in future years.
While she wants to remain focused on food, she’s also hoping to bring in a knife sharpening vendor from Lancaster later this year.

But expansion is difficult, because space usually limits the market to about 14 vendors on any particular day. This year, some spots rotated between different vendors, allowing more to participate over the course of a summer. 

Cressy has no current plans to expand to a new space because the current location is visible, walkable, and no viable alternative has yet presented itself. Access to water and bathrooms is also a benefit of the space in front of Town Hall.

“My goal is not to create a festival,” she said. 

Ultimately, Cressy said, the focus on food and the tight community of the vendors works to the market and community’s benefit.

“The quality of our vendors is very good, they really function well as a team,” she said. “People really pitch in and help each other.”