Stacey Dunkin, Mayor Marvin Junkin, and Fred Arbour perform the ceremonial cutting of burlap to open the Farmers Market for the season. KATHRYN HRYCUSKO PHOTO


Town Square sees return of Farmers Market

Special to the VOICE

Pelham’s farmers kicked off the start of a new market season last Thursday in the town square with the ceremonial cutting of burlap with a sickle. Mayor Marvin Junkin performed the honours, while market Clerk Fred Arbour and market Executive Chair Stacey Dunkin held the burlap. The tradition has been the kickoff to the market for most of its existence, with the organizers choosing burlap as more representative of the farmers than a ribbon might be, said Bev Yungblut, market Treasurer and organizer of the market’s special events.

Junkin has been invited to open the market in the past in his previous capacity as councillor and because he is farmer.

Despite the formality of the opening, the event was subdued, with few but the vendors in attendance. The market is only slowly coming to life and many of the vendors missed the inaugural week.

Fred Arbour, himself a former vendor, says it should be a full house by June 1 as sellers arrive with their wares. Yungblut says that the market is once again at its full capacity of 23 vendors.

Familiar faces are back, including Bry-Anne Farms, who have been there since the inauguration of the market, in 2003.

Anne Durst of Bry-Anne Farms said that they are back for another season and are hoping for decent weather in the next few weeks as they still have a lot of planting left to do.

Her sentiment was repeated by several other farmers who hope that the coming weeks will see dry weather and allow them to get planting, including newcomers to the market, John Taylor and Mary Edmonds, of Calico Farms. The couple brings organic microgreens and soaps to the market, though Taylor said that once the weather improves they hope to bring salad greens, tomatoes, and peppers to Pelham residents as well.

Other vendors sell everything from potted plants, baked goods, honey, sandwiches, pickled vegetables, and of course a large variety of seasonal vegetables, which will only expand as the season progresses.

In addition to weekly sales, Yungblut says that the market organizers have also planned some special events for the season.

“The Lionettes are here doing strawberries in June. They come and do a strawberry shortcake, and then in August they come and do peaches and ice cream.”

In the fall, on the last day of their season, October 10, the vendors will put on an Apple Festival as a customer appreciation night. Customers will be given free apple cider and apple fritters.

The market has plenty to offer for children as well, including the “Kids Can Grow” night. On May 23, youngsters are invited to plant seed potatoes at the non-profit booth in the market, which they can then take home and replant in their gardens or in a porch pot. In mid-September, participants will be invited to return with their full grown potatoes for a weigh-off.

Prizes will be given out for the smallest and biggest potato and the biggest crop. Face painting and a balloon artist will be on offer both nights of the Kids Can Grow program.

Children will also have the opportunity to participate in a weekly scavenger hunt activity that is new to the market this year. Each week “Wanted” posters featuring a flower, fruit, or vegetable, will be posted around the market, with its life-like duplicate hidden in one of the market stalls. Once found, children are asked to report to the “Marshall” (Market Clerk Fred Arbour) who will give them a stamp, the collection of which will add up to a prize.

Yungblut says that they are hoping that this market season “everyone’s sales pick up,” and reminds residents of Pelham that the market will stay open past the last bandshell date, until October 10. The bandshell concert series begins June 20 and runs until September 5, with the supper market starting June 6. Pelham residents are encouraged to come out and support their local farmers.