Last year’s Holiday Farmers’ Markets were absolutely incredible. From the farmers who came out in the early morning to sell their wares, the huge efforts they made to display their goods and the managers who helped coordinate the endless details to the volunteers who took the time to set up the spaces, the musicians who entertained us and the community members who came out in droves to support these two events… It was truly a testament to strong community relationships. I can only speak to the market in Williamstown since that’s the one I worked on most, but we were floored by the 1,475 people who walked through the doors of the Williams College Field House. Everyone seemed so very excited to be there, to be participating, to engage with the farmers and food vendors, to chat with friends they hadn’t seen in months and to walk out with big bags and boxes full of fresh, delicious food they could take home, prepare and feed to their families and friends. The event itself was fun and bursting with enthusiasm… all we kept hearing was ‘when can we do this again?’
So, we’re doing it again and have planned two market dates this year — to help the farmers extend their selling season and to provide a marketplace for our community to keep it local, even in the darkest days of winter. Come on down and see for yourself what everyone has been talking about. We need more of these events across the globe but are so very thankful we have the support and energy in our communities to make it happen here. Details on time and place and all that jazz below.
Given the success of last year’s Holiday Farmers’ Markets, Berkshire Grown will host a total of four markets in 2010 with both a north county (Williamstown) and south county (Great Barrington) presence – two on November 20, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and two on December 18, the Saturday before Christmas.
Many components for holiday meals will be offered from farmers and artisan producers in the region including produce, cheese, eggs, meat, poultry, bread, pies and other baked goods, plus pickles and jams. Entertainment will feature live music at both venues and pre-order pickups will be available.
Both Holiday Farmers’ Markets will take place at the Williams College Field House on Latham Street in Williamstown (10 am – 2 pm) and the Searles School Gymnasium on Bridge Street in Great Barrington (9 am – 1pm.) The two events will create a marketplace to extend the selling season of regional farmers and food producers as well as invite community members to join in celebration of our region’s food culture.
Berkshire Grown’s goal for the holiday markets is to develop new opportunities in the Berkshires for farmers and producers to increase sales of locally produced and preserved agricultural products, opening a new outlet. Berkshire Grown has been making strides toward increasing the awareness of locally grown food throughout the region. The Holiday Farmers’ Markets connect farmers and food producers directly with members of the community, strengthening the farm-to-table network in the Berkshires.
Last year, close to 1,500 people attended the Williamstown holiday market, during which 27 vendors generated more than $15,000 in sales. There were more than 30 vendors at the Great Barrington market, which attracted as many people as the best-attended market during the summer. “Wildly beyond expectations,” was how one of the vendors described their experience.
Berkshire Grown received funding from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources to promote Massachusetts Grown…and Fresher, at the Holiday Farmers’ Markets. Massachusetts Grown…and Fresher is a major sponsor in addition to Williams College, which has contributed significant funds to the project.
As part of Williams College’s ongoing commitment to sustainable food and local agriculture, the College is co-sponsoring the markets by donating the Williamstown venue as well as providing funding toward the event. The Williams College Sustainable Food and Agriculture Program at the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives is supporting the markets as a community partnership to further incorporate the principles of sustainability into the fabric of campus life. For more information on Williams’ ongoing commitment to sustainable food, visit http://www.williams.edu/resources/sustainability/index.php.
Still Seeking Vendors
Holiday Farmers’ Markets organizers are currently seeking additional farmers and food producers who are interested in selling locally grown food and food products with a focus on educating the consumer about local sources. Interested parties for the Williamstown market should contact Katharine Millonzi at firstname.lastname@example.org. For the Great Barrington market, Rosemary Levine can be reached at email@example.com or 413-528-8950. Visit www.berkshiregrown.org for additional details.
In support of Berkshire Grown, this event is sponsored by Massachusetts Grown…and Fresher, The Williams College Sustainable Food and Agriculture Program at the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives, Mezze Restaurant Group, Mission Bar & Tapas/The Market, The Red Lion Inn, Storey Publishing and Slow Food of Western Massachusetts.