Local farmers markets connect growers and buyers
By Kris Rued-Clark
MARSHFIELD — Buying fresh, locally grown produce is easy in Marshfield. When summer yields its bounty, farmers markets provide many delights. On Tuesdays the Main Street Marshfield farmers market sets up in the Pick ‘n Save parking lot, and on weekends the Festival Foods farmers market invites vendors to set up in the Festival Foods parking lot.
“We have about 18 vendors on Saturdays, and we’ve been averaging five to six on Sundays,” said Joe Neville, Festival Foods assistant store director. “At its peak in July, we’ll have 50 to 60 vendors.” Hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday through October.
Vendors are not charged to participate, but they are asked to register and fill out a form stating that they have grown or made the items they are selling within a 100-mile radius of Marshfield.
“It’s OK to just show up the day of the market,” said Neville. As a safety precaution, vendors are asked to remain in the parking lot until the market closes, even if they sell out early.
“It’s awesome,” said Neville. “It’s a win-win situation for the store and the vendors. We get a lot of traffic, and the vendors love coming here. They have a passion for what they do. The vendors we have are all great to work with.”
Even though it is still early in the season, many of the growers have greenhouses, allowing them to bring early-season crops to market sooner than most home gardeners can pick the same vegetables.
“We’ve seen beans, peas, cucumbers, and canned goods,” said Neville. “Later we’ll see the sweet corn. That’s always a big hit. As the weather turns colder we will see pumpkins and gourds.”
In addition to locally grown produce, vendors sell everything from colorful bouquets of freshly cut flowers to egg rolls.
“It is a variety of stuff, not just fruits and vegetable,” added Neville. “We have people selling honey and crafts. We’ve had some food vendors, some selling homemade bread and homemade soup. We’re happy to do it. It gives the vendors a place to sell, and they also help us by bringing more traffic to the store.” The Festival Foods farmers market will continue through the last week of October.
The Main Street Marshfield farmers market in the Pick ‘n Save parking lot takes place every Tuesday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. with the exception of the third Tuesday of each month when the hours are 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. to coincide with “Third Tuesdays,” a new downtown promotion.
Vendors may register online, at the Main Street Marshfield office, or on the day of the market.
“We don’t charge the vendors,” said Angie Eloranta, Main Street Marshfield’s executive director. Currently, 23 vendors are signed up with 10 to 15 participating any given week.
“We’re really happy with the farmers market,” Eloranta said. “In addition to vegetables, there are homemade goods, jams, baked goods, plants, and flowers as well.”
Additionally, FoodShare recipients may swipe their EBT card to receive tokens, which may be used at participating vendors to purchase produce.
“At the end of the day, vendors bring the tokens and we give them cash,” said Eloranta. “Even if only one person uses it, it’s worthwhile. Over the summer we will see more.”
On “Third Tuesdays” businesses stay open later, offering specials during the hours of 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. along with sidewalk sales, live music, and local artists.
“By adding the evening hours, we hope to make it more available to people who work until 5,” Eloranta adds. For more information about Third Tuesdays or the Main Street Marshfield farmers market, go to mainstreetmarshfield.com.