Local Hero Profile: Brimfield Farmers’ Market
Local Hero Profile by Sarah Lucia, CISA TerraCorp Service Member
Published in CISA’s April 2021 enewsletter
The Brimfield Farmers’ Market opens for its 15th season in 2021, serving a valuable role as a connecting point between the local community and local agriculture. In addition to providing fresh, local food for community members, the market functions as a fundraiser for Hitchcock Free Academy, a community center in Brimfield. The fees that vendors typically pay to set up a stand at the market go to the Academy to support free community programming for Brimfield families.
All of the vendors at the market are local, bringing produce, meat, dairy, and crafts from Brimfield and the surrounding towns. Everything that the vendors sell is either grown or made by their farmers and artisans. As a shopper at the Brimfield Farmers’ Market, you can expect to find locally raised meats such as beef, pork, and chicken, seasonal fruits and vegetables, herbs and edible plants, baked goods, honey, maple products, and eggs. Especially popular is Thompson’s Maple Farm, who brings ice cream to the market each week. Locally made crafts such as lavender soaps and sprays, quilted items, and other hand crafts can be purchased from the artisans and make great gift ideas. Plants, including flowering perennials, add a pop of color and round out the market.
The Brimfield Farmers’ Market plays a particularly important role in providing food access to the local community. Cindy Skowyra, the Executive Director of Hitchcock Free Academy, provides insight into why the farmers’ market is central to the town’s food system. The Town of Brimfield has limited access to fresh food, as there are no grocery stores within the town, so “you have to travel” to get to a grocery store. But, “six months out of the year, they can find some fresh, local produce” at the farmers’ market, within walking distance or a short drive away from their homes. For the six months that the farmers’ market is open, finding fresh food becomes a simpler task for the residents of Brimfield. Additionally, in the off-season when the market is closed, several vendors offer an informal pre-order and pick-up option at Hitchcock Academy to ensure that the local community can continue to get fresh food all year round.
For local community members looking for a place to use SNAP to buy fresh produce, two vendors at the market welcome SNAP customers. Both Hunt Berry Fruit Farm and Flourish Farm accept SNAP at their market booths. All SNAP customers also have HIP, the Healthy Incentives Program, which earns them an instant rebate on fresh fruits and vegetables purchased with SNAP at certain farmers’ markets and farm stands. Flourish Farm and Hunt Berry Farm can process HIP transactions, giving their SNAP customers an additional $40-$80 of fresh produce every month. For SNAP recipients in Brimfield, the farmers’ market is the only nearby location where they can earn HIP, increasing their grocery budget and their ability to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.
This year, the Brimfield Farmers’ Market opens on Saturday, April 17th. The market runs every Saturday until October 30th from 9am until 2pm. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, masks are required, and customers must keep a six-foot distance from one another. To learn more about the farmers’ market or to find the most current updates, visit their website.