With the attractive, heat climate we’ve been having, farmers markets not solely provide a beautiful alternative to spend time outdoor gaining access to recent and wholesome locally-grown produce, but in addition the prospect to see some new and acquainted faces from the group.
Pottstown FARM just lately launched its sixth season, bringing farm-fresh fruit and veggies to an city setting. Positioned at Smith Plaza in entrance of Pottstown’s Borough Corridor, the market takes place each different Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“The primary week we had over 700 guests,” stated Sheila Dugan, the market’s director and considered one of its founders. “Persons are very excited to be out.”
In earlier years, the farmers market would have about 400 in attendance at every market, so Dugan was happy with such a formidable attendance on opening day.
“I believe now we have a extremely nice market this 12 months,” Dugan stated of one of many causes she feels it was so effectively attended. “We labored actually arduous to get there.”
Dugan has discovered that this 12 months, she has had many distributors contacting her to be part of the market. She has even needed to flip some away as a result of what they provide is already represented available in the market.
“We attempt to preserve it so the companies do very well,” she stated.
General, she feels that individuals are lastly catching on to the truth that the market exists.
“Phrase is getting out that individuals are listening to about it and that’s tremendous thrilling,” she stated. “We went years with folks saying, ‘we didn’t know you had been right here’.”
Final 12 months the market remained open regardless of restrictions attributable to COVID, however Dugan needed to set up particular fencing to direct visitors in on one aspect and out one other to maintain issues protected. As well as, masks and social distancing had been required, nevertheless, issues are extra again to regular this 12 months.
“We are actually encouraging masks however not implementing it a lot,” Dugan stated. “We’ve some distributors who’re autoimmune, so we are attempting to implement some security, however folks should make their very own selection.”
Since its inception in 2014, the idea for the market wasn’t centered solely on being a spot to supply regionally grown meals gadgets, but in addition a spot the place folks may congregate.
“There’s numerous group and folks coming collectively,” Dugan stated.
Along with farmers and artisans, the market gives some distinctive applications to serve the group to encourage folks to begin shopping for more healthy and brisker meals.
“We’ve a program with the SNAP card the place in the event that they spend $10 on the SNAP card we give them a $5 coin to spend on the market,” Dugan stated.
Additionally they have a Two Chew Membership that was established for kids aged 12 and underneath to encourage them to attempt new meals. At every market, the Membership gives a distinct produce merchandise for them to attempt to in the event that they do, they get a $5 coin to spend on the market.
“I’m shocked to see that they go for the wholesome stuff and never the cookies and cupcakes,” Dugan stated, including that after a toddler tries a brand new sort of fruit or vegetable that they’ve by no means had earlier than, it appears to pique their curiosity in more healthy decisions.
“This can be a very nice alternative for these youngsters to discover this stuff that they wouldn’t ever see,” she stated.
The $5 cash are funded by native grants. The Two Chew Membership is sponsored by Pottstown Tower Well being and the SNAP program is funded by the Hill Faculty’s Hobart’s Run neighborhood initiative, together with their Pupil Philanthropy Council.
Dugan goals to assist expel what she sees as a false impression folks have in that farmers markets are dearer than supermarkets.
“We need to permit folks to know they’ll buy wholesome meals they usually can afford it,” she stated. “Hopefully it encourages folks to attempt recent produce and never go after the much less wholesome meals.”
As well as, in comparison with a grocery retailer, Dugan highlighted that farmers’ markets provide entry to distinctive issues you may’t discover elsewhere.
“The pepper jams you don’t get to seek out in a grocery store and the pickled greens which can be native and the recent root beer,” she stated.
This fall, Dugan seems ahead to bringing again a program known as Create with the Group the place market guests will get the chance to prepare dinner with working members of the group, equivalent to policemen, to discover ways to use meals they aren’t acquainted cooking with.
“The purpose is to teach folks on how you can use issues, like squash,” she stated.
Along with the care she expresses in direction of group members, Dugan additionally has the identical care, concern and consideration for the market’s distributors.
She expressed satisfaction in how she has seen how, through the years, the market has helped some native companies take off.
“Numerous artisans and native companies began on the farmers market and now they’ve flourished,” she stated.