SHREWSBURY – For the past decade, the Shrewsbury Farmers Market has given residents the opportunity to sample the bounty of dedicated local farmers and the wares of talented local artisans.
But on June 14, when the market kicks off its 10th season, founder Missy Hollenback won’t be running it. Hollenback has handed over administration of the market to the Department of Recreation and its Director Laurel Rossiter.
The move was Hollenback’s idea, who has taken a full-time job with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. Hollenback said she didn’t feel she had the time to effectively run the market.
“This is a dream job for me,” said Hollenback, who has lived in Shrewsbury 26 years. “I’ll be dealing with recycling and solid waste issues for 44 communities in the Southeast District, in the Fall River-New Bedford area.”
Hollenback said she had no hesitancy turning over the market to the Department of Recreation and expects it to continue to thrive. She said when she took the job, she spoke with the previous recreation director Angela Snell, who had been part of the committee when the farmers market was started. After talking with Rossiter, Hollenback said she thought the market was in good hands.
Rossiter said the town is committed to building on the successful market Hollenback created.
“The applications for vendors have already been sent out. We are trying to honor the vendors who worked with Missy, reaching out to them, giving them the first chance to register,” said Rossiter. “We have already had 16 vendor responses so far.”
The market is located in the parking lot of the senior center on Maple Avenue, and it runs for 15 weeks. In the past, there have been 16-20 vendors per week offering a variety of vegetables, fruits, honey, baked goods and artisan crafts.
When the Shrewsbury Farmers Market began, back in 2014, it was held at Ski Ward. After three years, it relocated to the Shrewsbury Senior Center.
“The town has been very generous to us, giving us use of the senior center parking lot. Allowing us to use the building for people who need to use the restroom or just get out of the sun,” said Hollenback.
Over the past few years, the Department of Recreation has also helped Hollenback with some of the administrative duties, including registrations and fee processing. That has helped smooth the transition this year.
“We’re really excited about the vendors that have agreed to come back and work with us, and we are looking forward to new vendors as well,” said Rossiter. “There is a learning curve to putting on a sustainable market. We’re committed to making it successful.”
The pricing for vendors will remain unchanged from 2022, said Rossiter. It’s $25 for a space for one week, $125 for the season for every other week, $250 for the season for every week and $450 for the season for a double space.
As part of its plan, the recreation department is looking to hire a market manager for the 2023 season. The part-time, temporary position would oversee the operations and promotion of the market. It will be paid for through the vendor rental fees.
“There is a lot that goes into running a market. There is marketing, working with the vendors, making sure everything runs smoothly on the day of the event,” said Rossiter. “We feel like we need to hire someone specifically for those responsibilities.”
Hollenback is keenly aware of the work that goes into running the farmers market and agrees that a market manager is needed.
“Early on, we had a co-market manager, MacKenzie May,” said Hollenback. “She was a young farmer, starting out on her own. Then, a few years ago, she became executive director of Central Mass. Grown.”
Hollenback has also had various volunteers helping out over the years, from high school and college students to local Girl Scout troops.
Rossiter said she is excited to see how the department can help the farmers market grow in coming years. Vendors have expressed a desire to be in a location that has better visibility to drivers. She has begun thinking of ways to combine the farmers market with other town programs, such as Food Truck Thursdays.
“There are a lot of possibilities for the future. But this first year, we want to just keep things the same and see how it goes,” she said.
The Shrewsbury Farmers Market will run Wednesdays, 2:30 to 6:30 p.m., starting June 14 through Sept. 20. For more information on becoming a vendor for the 2023 season, visit https://shrewsburyma.gov/641/Farmers-Market