The third annual Wakefield Farmers’ Market kicks off this Saturday morning at Hall Park, where local residents will get a taste of some of the best locally grown produce the area has to offer.
The Farmers’ Market will run every Saturday in Hall Park from July 9 to Oct. 8, starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 1 p.m. The opening day festivities will also include a musical performance by students from Wakefield’s own Onset School of Music.
Among the vendors who will be attending this year’s market are the Charlton Orchards Farm and Winery, Giovanna Gelato, the Globe Fish Co., Swiss Bakers and many others offering a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, Asian produce, dairy, bread, fish, art, music, and thanks to recently passed legislation, wine.
The decision to allow the Farmers’ Market to sell wine was not reached without a fair bit of discussion. The Board of Selectmen voted 4-3 in favor of the measure, with the dissenting voters expressing concern that the Farmers’ Market would hurt the business of local package stores by selling wine.
Wendy Dennis, the manager of the Farmers’ Market, responded by saying that the wine that’ll be available at the market are not the same types of wine that the local package stores currently sell.
Despite the headlines, the presence of wine at the market will likely wind up being only one of many weekly highlights, in addition to the raffles and other special events that the market is in the process of working with sponsors to organize.
Some of the confirmed events include a visit from Drumlin Farms, a flower arranging demo, and a salsa contest, in addition to several other events that are still in the works.
“This year we’re going to have a series of cooking demonstrations,” Dennis said. “So people can figure out how to use all those interesting ingredients from the Asian farm vendor, and other things, like what to do with 5,000 pounds of zucchini.”
Dennis, who will be the managing the Farmers’ Market for the first time this year, has set about trying to bring as much to the market as possible, in terms of quality products as well as sponsorships. In doing that, she also said that she hopes she can do it in a more efficient manner, so the job won’t be so daunting for her and everyone else involved.
“My goal is to try to streamline the process so being the manager isn’t so scary,” Dennis said. “And also, really to make sure we keep using the market as a way to bring business to Wakefield.”
In its first two years, under the management of Maura Racamato and Kelli Stromski, the market became a resounding success.
“They’ve done an amazing, amazing job,” Dennis said. “They created a market where the vendors are looking forward to coming back each year, so it’s got an excellent reputation with the vendors.”
Dennis said that Racamato and Stromski handed the reins to her this year because she was already involved as the bookkeeper of sorts, and it made sense to bring in another person as a manager so that more than just two people would have the experience needed.
“They are still helping me, believe me,” Dennis said. “This is their baby, they’re not letting go of it, they’re not cutting off the strings, they want this to last. They’ve done a smart thing, they called in another person and I think next year I’m going to call someone to co-manage with me, and we’re just going to make sure there is plenty of people who know how to run the Farmers’ Market.”
Dennis went on to add that because the Farmers’ Market is still new, it is important to have many people who have experience managing because “it’s really easy for a new organization to not survive because it’s too dependent on too few people.”
The Wakefield Farmers’ Market was founded in 2009 by Bill Chetwynd, Anthony Guardia and Kevin Piskadlo as part of the Wakefield Initiative. Officially, the Farmers’ Market is a project of the Wakefield Climate Action Project, which is a local 501 organization that addresses environmental issues.