“The numbers are astonishing in Salem,” said Rinus Oosthoek, executive director of the Salem Chamber of Commerce, “and I wish every community could get there.”
The beauty of a farmers market is that it not only supports local food growers and vendors and promotes good eating, “it’s also a way to support businesses,” he said. Many non-agricultural vendors also take booths at the farmers market, including makers of candles, soaps, jewelry and organic pet treats.
Estelle Rand, director of the Beverly Farmers Market, said Beverly’s market, which started the same year as Salem’s, has also seen significant growth, though it is not as large as Salem’s.
“I started off with four vendors, and now I have an average of 20,” Rand said.
The market, located in a city park opposite the Beverly depot, relies heavily on commuters streaming off trains, but sometimes she finds they’re just in a hurry to get home and not interested in shopping for veggies. But she has seen more families coming to the market in recent years.
This year, she plans to offer a food truck called The Happy Taco, which may lure more commuters to the vendors.
“I’m hoping the smell of food may help,” Rand said.
Swampscott market attracts budding baker
Two of the youngest entrepreneurs at the Swampscott Farmers Market on Sunday were Austin Sagan and his brother, Mason, both of Swampscott, who were selling baked goods at a booth called Austin's Cakes. While Mason sold his greeting cards that feature his photographs, Austin, 17, is the baker in the family who has started his own home baking business. It's their second year at the farmers market. "They do it all," said mom Julie Sagan, a local real estate agent who said her sons do all the baking and food prep. "They have a whole system as to what to do first, from the pies to the cookies," she said. Austin, a junior in high school who wants to study hospitality or business in college, got his certificates in safe food handling and allergen training. Their kitchen is inspected by the town. "It's an excellent way to showcase my products outside of the house," Austin said of the farmers market. Asked what they plan to do with the money earned, Mason said, "Put it back into the business."