Greenfield Farmers’ Market opens for season
The Recorder, April 29, 2017, By Shelby Ashline.
GREENFIELD — Saturday was the day for which Bernardston resident Maria Carey had been waiting for what seemed like forever.
She used to attend the Greenfield Farmers’ Market with her mother when it first began 42 years ago, and now Carey continues her family tradition, anticipating the market’s opening day each year.
“The first day is always the best,” she said. “You wait and wait and wait and finally it’s here.”
The market’s opening day of business, a sure sign of summer in Carey’s eyes, was Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. From now until October, more than 25 vendors each week will offer local produce, maple syrup, honey, flowers, cheese, meat, eggs, handmade crafts and more for residents to purchase at their booths on Court Square.
Though monthly indoor markets are held throughout the winter, opening day represents the market’s much-anticipated return outside and to a weekly schedule.
“It’s very exciting to finally be at opening day,” said David Paysnick, who operates a booth for his Greenfield farm Rainbow Harvest, and also manages the winter farmers’ markets. “A lot of customers in the community really look forward to it as much as the farmers do.”
The market, which dates back to 1975, is no small potatoes, vendors and customers agreed.
“It’s a big thing,” said Shannon Dry, who recently took over as the Greenfield Farmers’ Market’s manager. “There’s so many farms, the diversity of crops is incredible and everyone knows each other.”
Though customers may attend to purchase anything from Lion’s Mane mushrooms to colorful flowers, the social aspect of the market is one of the key draws.
“That’s the good thing about the market, you get to meet people,” said Greenfield resident Jim Bellany, who visited the market with his wife, Carolyn. “It’s more than just food.”
“People come out that you haven’t seen in a while,” said John Passiglia, who sold hooks, plant hangers and trellises at the market through his Greenfield business, Pierce Street Iron Works. “You see families, you see kids, you see older folks.”
With live music this weekend performed by Tom Gizzi, Passiglia said the market has become a place for people not just to shop, but to “come and hang out.”
A new chance for healthy eating
According to former Greenfield Farmers’ Market Manager Devon Whitney-Deal, hopefully starting at the May 6 market, customers who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits can take advantage of the new statewide Healthy Incentives Program (HIP).
The program matches customers’ SNAP purchases of local fruits and vegetables when shopping at farmers markets, farm stands, mobile markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share programs. For example, if a family uses SNAP benefits to buy $15 of fresh produce at the market, a credit of $15 will be immediately returned to their electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card.
Monthly caps on how much someone with SNAP benefits can earn in credits depends on his or her household size, Whitney-Deal said. Households of one or two people can earn up to $40 per month, three to five people up to $60, and six or more people up to $80.
“It’s a great way to encourage people to eat more vegetables,” Paysnick said. “I think it’s going to benefit both our farmers and our community.”
To learn more about the HIP program, visit bit.ly/2qqOhwc.
You can reach Shelby Ashline at: firstname.lastname@example.org
413-772-0261, ext. 257