SHREWSBURY – Nine years ago, Melisa “Missy” Hollenback had a vision of residents gathered under canopies shopping for fresh produce and enjoying time together.
To bring her idea to life, Hollenback attended Select Board meetings, where she advocated for the town to host a farmers market.
“It’s [a farmers market] a really good thing for the town. It’s good for local agriculture and local vendors and it’s great to help climate change,” Hollenback said.
She assembled a group of 10 residents to help her run the market. However, after a few years, the amount of volunteers dwindled, leaving her to run the market by herself.
Initially, Hollenback said she was hesitant to take on the demanding role of organizer, but she ultimately decided to step up.
Now, Hollenback is stepping down as she no longer has the time to run the market because of her new job.
During the Sept. 27 Select Board meeting, the board acknowledged Hollenback for her dedication to the market.
“Ms. Hollenback has been instrumental in running the farmers market since its inception. I know that the residents appreciate it [the farmers market] and you did a great job,” Select Board Chair Moe DePalo said.
Select Board member Beth Casavant presented a proclamation to Hollenback.
“The Town of Shrewsbury and its community greatly benefited from the work of Melisa Hollenback to both establish and manage the Shrewsbury farmers market… Melisa established a program that will be a fixture in the community for years to come,” Casavant read.
She added, “This [the proclamation] is very formal, but informally, the market has been an amazing resource and something that so many people in the community look forward to… we are all so grateful for all of the work that you put into it. I’ve seen you literally sweating buckets on those Wednesdays.”
Town steps up with Shrewsbury’s farmers market
According to Town Manager Kevin Mizikar, the town government will be taking on the role of organizing the farmers market through the Recreation Department. However, they have not had any meetings about it yet as they are still trying to recruit a new Recreation Director following the departure of Angela Snell.
“We will be engaging with the vendors and working with everyone in the coming months to continue the success of the tradition that has been brought to us,” he added.
Though she no longer organizes the market, Hollenback said she will always stop by.
“All I want to say is at Town Meeting when we were proposing this [the establishment of the farmers market] I said then ‘I just want to shop at the market’ and I did and I still do, so I am really grateful for the town for being able to move it forward, so I can continue to shop,” she said.
Among the vendors with whom Hollenback will continue to shop is Tina Pickett, who has been selling homemade bread at the market for four years.
“I’ll miss her. She was a great advocate for all of the vendors,” Pickett said.