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Community Conversations

July 15, 2018

WESTMINSTER -- One look at the vivid colors of fresh produce, the hand-picked flowers, and multihued jars of homemade jams -- found at a farmer’s market -- and you’ll fall in love.

And that is why the Westminster Farmers Market is celebrating its 10th year and continues to remain strong and grow with each season.

Its growth started when the town formed an Agricultural Commission a decade ago and a survey was sent to residents to learn what they wanted most in town.

“The overwhelming response was a farmer’s market,” Jen Baum, market manager, says happily, “So 10 years ago this coming August, it got its start.”

The Westminster Farmers Market opens the first Friday in May and ends the last Friday in October.

“We are open from 3 until 6 p.m. and we are a rain or shine market meaning our dedicated vendors are here no matter what the weather.”

The market is located on the common, on Academy Hill, and offers over 25 vendors “who are local farmers, growers, producers and artisans,” Baum adds.

Live musical entertainment fills the air each week of the season -- supported by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and corporate sponsor Workers Credit Union -- and provides an upbeat vibe, keeping patrons entertained while they shop.

“The market also puts together a series of events throughout the season to bring agricultural education through activities held at the market,” says Baum. “Each event offers fun children’s activities, experiences, experts in their fields of agriculture, handouts and more.”

The market offers one event per month to provide, educate and motivate folks about what they are or what they could grow, the importance of pollinators, the value of chemical free foods.

“At each event we offer opportunities for adults and children,” says Baum. “Depending on which event in which month it could be a costume contest, creating seed bombs for planting, butterfly releases, canning and cast-iron cooking demos, master gardeners or bee keeping.”

Their June event focused on super foods for super heroes with fun and games for all and their most recent July event was “How Does Your Garden Grow” with guests from the Westminster Rod and Gun Club building bat houses, master gardeners sharing their expertise, along with a butterfly release for the children and adults.

The 10th Anniversary Celebration and Peak of the Harvest will be held from 3:30-5:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 24. The community is invited to enjoy demonstrations, food preservation of all kinds, a recipe contest using local ingredients, and of course, cake.

On Sept. 14, the Sixth Westminster Fair and Share -- Art in Agriculture will be held. The event will feature the Circle of Artists’ art show, and demonstrations of working with fiber animals.

A Food Truck Roundup will be held on Friday, Oct. 5, followed by Closing Day celebration on Friday, Oct. 26, and a holiday market on Friday, Nov. 17.

Over 25 vendors, with more to come as the season continues, offer bedding plants, flower bouquets, local produce, eggs, baked goods, cold beverages, prepared meals, ready-to-eat-at-the-market food and high-quality crafts.

In addition, grass-fed beef, pastured pork and lamb and free-range chicken can be found.

Each vendor applies early in the year and is juried by a committee that consists of members of the Agricultural Commission, public patrons that often volunteers at the market, along with Baum.

“We want to ensure that we do not have too many offering the same items,” Baum adds. “Our food vendors are permitted by the town of Westminster having to present their licenses for their inspected commercial or residential kitchens, proof of completion of food handling and allergen courses.”

Besides the organic produce and meats, visitors will be excited to see unique products such as gemstones, goat milk soap, dog treats and cookies, artisan breads, gourmet granola, bird houses and feeders, herbs, knife sharpening, quilts, smoothies, and syrups.

“The farmers market brings people together. It connects people with their food. They can talk to the farmers and producers and learn what goes into raising their meats and growing their produce,” says Baum.

In a world where there are many grocery stores and online ordering there is a great disconnect between people and their food and the people who purchase something off a shelf and those that work 24/7 to be able to put it there.

“The market works to bring people together in a like-mindedness of supporting local and being confident that what they feed their family is the best it can be,” says Baum.

The Westminster Farmer’s Market has developed greater depth as the years have gone by and now has a core of 15-18 vendors with a revolving round of per diems to add spice to the lineup.

“A well-developed local farmer’s market brings to its town is more than the fresh food and unique crafts, it’s the sense of community that can be built and sustained through time -- an element of a healthy town (or city) that is dwindling in the current era,” Baum concludes.

For detailed information on the Westminster Farmer’s Market, please visit www.westminstermafarmersmarket.com

Got a column subject or item for Community Conversations? Email ccuddahy@sentinelandenterprise.com . Read her blog at blogs sentinelandenterprise.com/communityconversations

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