SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

June 12, 2013

Farmers markets bloom on the North Shore

Marblehead has the oldest. Salem has the largest. But all are looking to another season of growth.

(Continued)

“It seems like there is definitely more momentum with the farms, farmers markets in general and (Community Supported Agriculture programs),” Varela said.

“Especially Salem,” he said, “people are just more aware of the farmers market. I think they now rely on it in the season. It’s becoming, hopefully, more of a habit for people to come. So, it’s great.”

Bill Clark, whose Danvers family farm dates back many generations, said he has become a fan of farmers markets in recent years as they have caught on with young adults looking to buy local.

“They have really taken over big-time,” Clark said. A longtime devotee of farm stands as a way to sell produce, Clark said his thinking has changed in the last five years.

“Last year, we doubled our sales in farmers markets (during) 10 hours a week versus 64 hours a week at the farm stand, so it’s a no-brainer for me from a cost standpoint,” Clark said.

People can come to a farmers market and get a range of items, versus limited items at a farm stand.

“Everyone has their specialty, and everyone has their strengths, and they bring all their strengths together,” Clark said.

The trend is statewide. Last year, there were 255 summer farmers markets and 40 winter markets in Massachusetts, according to Amy Mahler, a spokeswoman for the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Just four years earlier, in 2008, there were 167 summer markets and not a single winter market in operation.

Salem now has both a summer and winter market.

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll will ring in the fifth season for the Salem Farmers Market, which is run by the city’s Main Streets program, tomorrow at 3 p.m. in Derby Square, the city’s historic marketplace.

The Salem Farmers Market has been growing steadily, with six new vendors this year, and a net gain of three vendors, for a total of 35.

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