Medford to introduce first winter farmers’ market
Published: Monday, November 26, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2012 12:11
The City of Medford will this year host a farmers’ market during the winter season for the first time.
The market will be held in the garage of the Hyatt Place hotel in Medford Square Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., starting on Dec. 6 and continuing until Feb. 28, excluding Dec. 27.
Medford has hosted the weekly Medford Farmers’ Market every summer since 2006, which regularly features products such as organic vegetables and locally baked goods, according to Medford Farmers’ Market board member Syrah McGivern. However, since the market closes annually in mid-October, vendors have a limited time frame in which to sell their products and are often disappointed when sales end in the fall, she added.
The Medford Farmers’ Market Board of Directors therefore decided that extending the market into the winter months would address this issue, McGivern said
“Vendors were asking to sell more, and customers were asking to buy more,” she said. “We also saw that cities like Somerville and Winchester were able to have successful farmers’ markets, and we wanted to be able to do the same.”
The winter market will differ from the summer market in that it will feature products from a total of four farms rather than just two, according to Susan Fairchild, president of the Medford Farmers’ Market Board of Directors. Vendors will sell a different assortment of goods, including new varieties of fish, lobsters and clam chowder, she said.
“My hope is that we’ll be able to continue to create a sense of community, as we were able to do over the summer,” Fairchild said. “It should be a place for people to come out, do shopping, see their friends, support local businesses and eat healthy.”
According to Fairchild, the Board faced a number of obstacles in making the winter market a reality, including recruiting vendors, completing extensive paperwork and reaching out to potential customers and sponsors.
However, the greatest challenge the Board faced was finding a location in Medford to hold the market, as options were limited and the market does not have a budget to pay for a space, Fairchild said.
“People really wanted to keep things in [Medford] Square, where it would be conveniently located,” she said. “Thankfully, the general manager of the Hyatt Place in Medford Square offered to let us have the hotel parking garage.”
Fairchild noted that this move will not only provide a warm and spacious environment for the market to operate in, but also allow the Board to form a valuable partnership with the Hyatt Place.
According to McGivern, the market is looking for performers to enhance the market’s ambience and hopes to get in touch with student groups at Tufts.
Members of Tufts’ Freshman Community Service Pre-Orientation (FOCUS) collaborated with the Board in selecting a location for the winter market, and Food Rescue, a student-run program at the Leonard Carmichael Society, has already arranged to pick up leftover goods from the market and redistribute them to the underprivileged, according to Joshua Malkin, a senior involved in the Food Rescue program.
“We’ll go to the market towards the end each day, collect whatever food is left over and bring it to the food pantry at the Unitarian Church in Medford,” Malkin said. “With the help of [Director of Community Relations] Barbara Rubel, we talked to the right people, and Medford was very happy to get involved in our program.”
English Professor Elizabeth Ammons, co-coordinator of the Community Cupboard Food Pantry at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Medford, said she has been accepting food donations from the Medford Farmers’ Market in the fall and expects to continue doing so in the winter, although she said the market has not yet contacted her about it.
Ammons spoke highly of the market and expressed excitement that sales will extend into the winter months.
“It’s really valuable for communities to have access to local food, and the Winter Farmers’ Market is one of the organizations that’s helping to make that happen,” Ammons said. “Being able to get local produce is highly valued by clients.”
Rubel believes the winter Medford Farmers’ Market will expand on the success of the summertime market.
“It’s terrific that Medford will have a winter market,” she said. “The farmers’ market board was very creative in finding new space for it, and I understand that new vendors will be involved. The best parts of the summer market are scheduled to remain—fresh produce, breads and goodies, community informational tables, entertainment and food trucks right outside.”
Rubel believes that the Tufts community will benefit from the winter market’s presence.