Shrewsbury Town Meeting votes to relax definition of ‘farmers market’

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Shrewsbury Town Meeting votes to relax definition of ‘farmers market’
Produce from Stillman’s Farm is displayed at the Shrewsbury Farmers Market. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

SHREWSBURY – An under-the-radar article could lead to better farmers markets in Shrewsbury.

On May 21, the second night of Shrewsbury’s annual Town Meeting, an assembly of 240 elected representatives approved Article 43, amending the town’s bylaws to change the definition of “farmers market.” The Town Meeting, led by Town Moderator James Kane, approved the change via voice vote; the approval seemed to be overwhelming.

Before the amendment to the bylaws, Shrewsbury had one of the stricter definitions of “farmers market,” allowing at most 12 percent of vendors to be “crafters,” or companies that sell non-produce products like soap, woodwork, jewelry, and pottery. Under the old provisions, over 85 percent of vendors must have sold produce.

“What we found is the way the definition is currently written is not as flexible with providing for a variety of vendors at the site. [The article] would allow for people to engage with the farmers market, which has been fairly successful,” Director of Planning and Economic Development Christopher McGoldrick said on May 9.

With the approval of Article 43, produce-related vendors must account for only a simple majority of the market, allowing much more space for “crafters.” Proponents of the bylaw change said that adjusting the crafter-farmer ratio would allow for greater variety in products, more flexibility for scheduling vendors, and, ultimately, an even more attractive market for the community.

“It doesn’t look like it’s a big article, but it’s an important article to help the sustainability of the farmers market. It will allow more vendors and more variety, which a lot of farmers markets have started to do because having a variety of products helps get traffic up,” Planning Board Chair Moe DePalo said on May 2.

The Planning Board, Select Board, and Finance Committee recommended the article prior to Town Meeting.

The Community Advocate is providing real-time updates about Shrewsbury’s annual Town Meeting at Oak Middle School. For more information, and to see updates, follow us on Facebook or visit www.communityadvocate.com.

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