As a town resident and new Marshfield Farmers’ Market Manager, I wanted our market to be the place to go every Friday afternoon. The prior market manager successfully developed the reputation that Marshfield’s was a friendly, social market for speaking with your farmer or baker, where vendors take time to explain things or do something special for you with a smile. I wanted to keep that intact through the changes. My vision fit nicely with the mission of the Marshfield Agricultural and Horticultural Society, the non-profit sponsor of the farmers’ market. The supportive board of directors allowed implementation of my concepts to integrate more agriculture, provide free activities weekly, improve the comfort level, and reduce our carbon footprint, while enhancing product information and diversity.
My vision was then blessed with a location that is out-of-this-world-perfect; we moved the year round market to an area with historical agricultural displays previously reserved for the annual Marshfield Fair, under the grandstands. This indoor space has an open feel, permits over 30 vendors to be neatly arranged with wide aisles, and more vendors outside the entrance enticing customers with odors of prepared foods.
The vendors helped figure out ways to make “going green” feasible. All have sustainable packaging (except where prohibited by law), the market composts appropriate waste, and recycles. Some vendors offer rebates for returning containers or bringing your own bag. Soon insulated reusable market bags and refillable BPA-free sports bottles will be offered as well.
The vendor placard, coming soon, provides patrons with key information at a glance. The standardized format shows business information, sustainability practices and whether organic or local ingredients are used. Care about your own carbon footprint? The placard tells you how many miles the products traveled to be there. It also indicates special services like if the vendor accepts credit cards or has a farm stand. So should you want only Marshfield based products, seek organic items, or simply want to help a vendor in their first year – you can with ease!
We work and communicate as a team and vendors use each other’s products as ingredients in their own creations, it’s a very community oriented group. When our farmers heard customers wanted truly local produce they went to work in the greenhouses and high tunnels this winter and the result was an astounding array of fresh locally grown vegetables the first weeks of June including cucumbers, green beans, radishes and cherry tomatoes. Nearly all market products are MA grown, but a few items reach within New England. Management approval is required for all items not vendor made/grown/harvested and all items have to be labeled with the farm name/city/state.
We have free activities for children and adults every week related to agriculture, health, and local foods led by the vendors, 4H, and local businesses/non-profits. The website www.marshfieldfair.org/fm.htm and our brochure provide the entire season’s activities by week, the website includes detailed descriptions too. With events like fire truck day and beer making, alternative therapies day and food festivals a delightful market season is promised. We have live music, multiple picnic areas, and we diversified the local product offerings to include certified organic produce, meats, cheeses, bakery, local wine, pasta, honey, maple syrup, wool, and much more. The website also includes vendor pages indicating where to find each vendor, their offerings and mission statements, frequency at the market, and pre-ordering information.
Every Farmers’ Market has its own personality and character, and like a comfortable pair of shoes you have to try them on and walk around a bit to find what fits you best. The Marshfield Farmers’ Market has a fresh location, relaxed and friendly atmosphere, diverse array of local food and home goods, and free activities and information that may suit you. Come “try us on” every Friday 2-6 pm at the Marshfield Fairgrounds on route 3A (140 Main St.), the grounds are stroller and wheelchair friendly. Visit the website for more information, www.marshfieldfair.org/fm.htm
Submitted by Lorrie Dahlen