Shrewsbury Farmers Market boosts small vendors hurt by COVID-19

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Photo by/Laura Hayes
Erynne McGuiness and Ella Belanger serve ice cream.

By Laura Hayes, Senior Community Reporter

SHREWSBURY — It was Feb. 2020 when Julia Moriconi was negotiating a space for her ice cream shop, Mrs. Moriconi’s Ice Cream, in Worcester.

Suddenly, she stopped hearing back from the landlord and realized that a shutdown due to COVID-19 was on the horizon. 

“I’m a pandemic business,” Moriconi said.

Launching new businesses

Moriconi had been a pastry chef for years and enjoyed the dairy portion of her pastry school education. She then got her “Mrs. Moriconi” name while doing popup shops and creating other frozen desserts.

In June of last year, four months into the pandemic, Shrewsbury Farmers Market Founder Missy Hollenback reached out to Moriconi, seeking an ice cream vendor for the market. 

When Moriconi got her equipment, she got busy, making 100 pints of cream and selling out in 90 minutes. 

“We take pride in being able to launch new businesses,” said Hollenback in regards to Moriconi and others like her.

Pandemic offers silver lining for Farmers Market

The Shrewsbury Farmers Market officially opened June 16, gathering farmers and local small businesses as COVID-19 restrictions finally faded.

“It’s actually been going fantastic,” Hollenback said. “After a pandemic, we had no clue.” 

She said the farmers market went well last year, adding that there were several people who visited for the first time because they were working from home. 

“We have much more of a variety of people than we’ve had before,” Hollenback said.

She enjoys seeing the people who come to the market on a weekly basis as well as the ones who visit for the first time.

“It becomes like a big family,” Hollenback said.

Farmers Market adds vendors

Some of the vendors come to the market every week, while others come every- other week.

Photo by/Laura Hayes
Mayari Velasquez, of Mayari’s Voyage, hands Missy Hollenback a grain bowl.

Hollenback has also brought new vendors to the market, including Mayari’s Voyage, which is run by a chef working out of the Worcester Regional Food Hub. That vendor’s first day at the market was July 7.

“I contacted her and said, ‘You know, it would be a good way for you to get your name out there, and we also have a need for pre-made food,’” Hollenback said.

Moriconi, meanwhile, is busy doing events and five farmers markets, including Shrewsbury’s. 

“I’m just really happy to be a part of this,” she said. “When [Hollenback] had asked me, ‘Oh, are you coming back this year,’ I’m like, ‘You guys gave me my start. I can’t say no to you. Of course, I will be,’” she recalled.

Supporting small businesses, Hollenback said she appreciated that Shrewsbury let the Farmers Market have their space while also working with the market through the pandemic, especially when other farmers markets closed.

“We’re really grateful to the town for all their help,” she said.

The last day of the market will be Sept. 29. For more information, visit http://shrewsburyfarmersmarket.com/.