A Review of the Braintree Farmers’ Market
By Tatum McIssac
There is something about live music that puts me in a good mood. So when I arrived at the Braintree Farmers’ Market and was greeted by acoustic guitar player Carlos V Ramos singing the Beatles’ classic, “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”, I knew things were off to a good start. Another good sign: at 10am, right next to pristine Thayer Academy, the parking lot was full and required two friendly assistants to help people find parking spots.
For late October, I was pleasantly surprised to see such a good turnout – of both patrons and vendors. Nearly two dozen white tents were lined up outside Braintree Town Hall for the last market before a brief hiatus leading up to the annual, Braintree Thanksgiving Farmers’ Market on November 22nd starting at 9 a.m. Saturday morning. The indoor/outdoor holiday market is set to feature more than 30 local farmers, artisan food vendors, some described below, and crafters, along with horse-drawn hay rides and bluegrass music. But I digress.
For my visit, The Farmer’s Garden from Rehoboth and Second Nature Farm, based out of Norton, each had winter squashes, root vegetables, late season tomatoes and greens on display. As someone who’s CSA shares are coming to an end for the year, I relished in the opportunity to grab some of the fresh, autumn veggies.
Coming off a long week of rain and chilly temperatures, I also sensed a theme of “comfort food” permeating throughout the market. Locals lined up for hot dishes from Homestyle Caterers, including stuffed peppers and chicken pot pies. Bushels of apples in every variety drew me to CN Smith Farm’s corner of the market, yet I had to resist a box of freshly made at the farm doughnuts they had on display right near the cash register!
Apart from the live music and the great turnout, what impressed me the most about the Braintree Farmers’ Market was the sheer variety it offered. There was jewelry, coffee and wine for sale. Braintree Folk told me of a concert scheduled for November 8th at the All Souls Parish Hall Coffeehouse. And I was delighted to see Lightning Willow Farms out of Rockland too – its handmade soaps, lotions and oils I had learned about when visiting Norwell’s market a few weeks earlier.
For the foodies, the farm fresh produce was only the beginning. I purchased a jar of honey from Jenny D’s Bees which I was told will never spoil (as long as I store it properly). Foxboro Cheese Company had samples to try and sold me fromage blanc with chives –a perfect accompaniment to some fresh bread and prosciutto later that day by the fire pit at home. Swissbakers out of Allston/Reading said it best in their tagline: “Our food makes you feel good”, evidenced by my kids delight when I came home with freshly baked pretzel sticks for them to enjoy. Another Norwell market repeat – Seeds and Songs Artisan Bakery – had their vegan baked goods on beautiful display.
My only regret? Not grabbing a couple of the beautiful desserts showcased by The Cupcakerie. Anyone planning a bridal or baby shower in Southeastern MA or RI – check them out! Another Rhode Island-based company, the RI Mushroom Company, and Nella Pasta out of Jamaica Plain were also on hand with amazing local ingredients for a fantastic dinner.
Maybe it’s because Braintree is one step closer to Boston – a hub of great food and cultural diversity. Or perhaps it’s that locally sourced food and wares are really taking off on the South Shore. My guess is that it’s a combination of both that make this farmers’ market so popular and successful. I know I was impressed and not a bit surprised when I found myself whistling a Beatles tune on the ride home.
Tatum McIsaac is a south shore resident, self-proclaimed foodie, and mom to two kids who actually like vegetables! She works full time in corporate communications, but loves spending her free time perusing farmers’ markets, scoping out local eateries with her husband, and cooking for her family. In addition to her posts on the eSS&SC blog, you can read her New England restaurant reviews at Good Taste by Tatum.