The Importance of Farmstands and Farmers' Markets

AROUND THE NEK - With the warm weather, farmers' markets and farmstands are blooming once again in the Northeast Kingdom. The work of farmers and artisans did not stop for COVID-19, and many are excited to get back into the community as restrictions lift.

 

The Lyndonville Farmers' Market is scheduled to return to Bandstand Park starting June 4. Organizer Phoebe Weisenfeld says it's going to look more like a normal market with the return of live music, something that had to be canceled last year amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. "The guidelines are going to be what they are, and we're ready to comply with whatever happens. It's seeming like stuff is going to be easier this year, though, than last year," she said. The market will last from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM and recur every Friday until October 8. 15-20 vendors signed up for this year's market, nearly half of them new to the scene. Vendors will continue to be accepted until the market begins.

The St. Johnsbury Farmers' Market is also returning to the scene as early as this Saturday, and is scheduled to take place every Saturday from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM in the parking lot behind Anthony's Restaurant. Several vendors have confirmed that this beginning date is early for the summer market season, but they are excited to attend regardless. The St. Johnsbury Farmers' Market has also seen an uptick in new vendors.

"Some of our vendors have their own stands, or some of them go through stores, and some don't. For those that do, [the market] is just another outlet and a way for vendors to really connect with the community," Weisenfeld says. The farmers' markets across the Northeast Kingdom allow customers to network with local artisans and farmers, learn new recipes, and discover where their food and crafts come from.

Roots Too Farm in St. Johnsbury is one of the farms that goes to markets and has their own farmstand. Susan Monahan owns the farm with her husband Hisa Kominami where they mainly grow vegetables. The farm also sells strawberries and flowers at the stand and markets. "We really wanted to grow them for our local community," Monahan said, elaborating that farmstands are a great way to bring people to the farm without getting involved in agritourism.

The Bennett Family Farm, also in St. Johnsbury, only has a farmstand to sell their beef, maple syrup, vegetables, and honey. Owner Chelsea Bennett admitted that not attending markets took the community "a little longer to find [them]" when the farmstand began 6-7 years ago. "The farm stand subsidizes our income," Bennett said. With such a dry year, honey was not able to be harvested so the bees would have enough food for the winter. However, the Bennett's lost their whole colony of bees this winter, likely due to neighborhood pesticides and railroad tracks. This loss in animals and income only emphasizes the importance of the Bennett's farmstand.

Another perk to owning a farmstand, Bennett says, is that "we can eat what we grow here. We lessen our footprint and know where our food comes from." She thinks that this is also a reason farm stands are so important in the Northeast Kingdom. The community knows where their food is coming from, and in instances like the pandemic where certain necessities may not be available in stores, people can rely on their local farms for food.