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The Market Pulse

Farmers Markets are at the heart of our Berkshire Community



Photographs by Megan Haley

It is dusk on Friday, and the parking lot at 18 Church Street is shifting between business day and date night. There are cars here and there, a crew of bees humming in the garden, a couple heading toward the shortcut to Main Street. It’s nearly impossible to imagine the explosion of activity that will transform this space in the morning. The only clue is a banner staked in the grass that reads: Home of the Great Barrington Farmers’ Market. 

Between now and tomorrow, 34 vendors and two managers will bring the market to fruition. It might seem like magic as the opening bell rings on Saturday morning, but it’s work that makes it happen. All around the county and beyond, farmers and food producers are picking, washing, baking, brewing, packaging, and loading everything from lettuce to goat cheese to coffee to baguettes. For most vendors, preparation goes back to winter with a complex plan for how much product will be needed for each market. And for all that hard work, there’s beauty in the moment the market comes together. Trucks descend, a fleet of tents rise up, and in an hour’s time, a parking lot becomes the best destination in town. 

I learned to love vegetables at the Great Barrington Farmers’ Market. I spent almost a decade selling vegetables for Indian Line Farm, one of the market’s longest standing vendors, before I managed the market for a year. Working at the market taught me how to chop radishes into butter, slice kohlrabi into fries, and to recognize the immense work that went into every vegetable in my kitchen. Of course, there is the growing, but selling at a market is an exact science. Elizabeth Keen of Indian Line Farm lives by her 25 years of records: “What to harvest is determined from records kept on years past and specific days of the summer. Those records are critical to us.”

Debbie Barber, who, along with her husband, Tom Decker, runs Double Decker Farm in Hillsdale, explains a frequent gap in customer perception. “Often people show up ten minutes before the market ends, upset that we’re nearly out of plants or vegetables. It requires a change in thinking to understand that an empty table at the end of the market is a good thing.” 

Indeed it is. Because when the farmer succeeds, the community reaps the benefits.

The Great Barrington Farmers’ Market began in 1990 with a few vendors. A group of restaurateurs and food lovers had put the word out the previous year: Farmers wanted for a market. The goal was to bring action back to a wilting Main Street, and to revitalize a once-vibrant Berkshire agricultural scene that had all but faded away. Barber and Decker answered the call, nervous about being newbies among more seasoned farmers.

Barber told me the story at a recent market, surrounded by her now-famous red and pink begonias: “There just weren’t that many people farming. But then the market itself inspired people to start farming because it showed them it was possible. What started as a few vendors became ten, then 15, and then 20.”

These days, anyone can tour the Berkshires by way of its market tables. From the bustling Monterey market on Tuesdays to the Berkshire Mall lot on Wednesdays, from the West Stockbridge village green and vibrant Dalton pop-up on Thursdays to the church parking lots in Sheffield and Lenox on Fridays. Finish up with the anchor markets in Great Barrington, Pittsfield, Williamstown, and North Adams on Saturdays, and you’ve eaten your way through the county.

Each market has its own flavor and community, reflective of the town that hosts it. Amelia Conklin, a meat farmer who runs Sky View Farm with her husband, Will, spoke to me at the Sheffield market, her hand resting on her pregnant belly: “This is our community—we both grew up here in Sheffield. As long as there are vendors and customers, we’ll be here, too. After the winter, the first market makes me feel like a flower emerging from the soil. Answering questions, connecting with customers and other vendors—I really love being here.”

Farmers markets are essential access points, ensuring healthy food for residents and visitors of all incomes and backgrounds. In the last several years, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) business has skyrocketed, and many Berkshire markets have funded the doubling of SNAP dollars for market customers through private and public partnerships. Bridgette Stone (photo right) is assistant manager at the Great Barrington market, which did over $18,000 in SNAP sales in 2017.

“Both our SNAP and community sponsors are always shocked when we tell them about the impact of their giving. There are so many people on the economic edge. Our community is more diverse than people assume, and the nutrition-assistance programs make a difference.” The market provides an opportunity to support our most vulnerable residents, and the more we commit to that process, the stronger our community grows. It’s a win-win. “Food is intrinsically linked to human dignity,” Stone continues. “As healthy and beautiful food finds its way onto more tables, the money used to purchase it goes back to farmers and small business owners working and living in our community.”

On this overcast day in June, the Great Barrington market is bustling right from the start. Live music sets the tone as customers pour in, and it really does feel like everyone is here. I pick up vegetables from Markristo and MX Morningstar, meat from North Plain Farm, cheese from Grace Hill. From there, I head to Off the Shelf Eggs, the new creation of Anna Houston and Rob Perazzo, who both got their start working for North Plain Farm. I’ve heard rumors of their breakfast sandwiches, and I’m eager to try one. Sandwich in hand, I brave the Six Depot coffee line before grabbing a seat under a tent to watch the market buzz around me.

The sandwich is perfect—a runny, fried egg with a bright-orange yolk layered with sharp melted cheese, arugula, and some sort of homemade onion jam on a butter-grilled bun. I stop by the stand to express my appreciation and ask Houston how her first season is going. She gives me a wide smile: “It’s been great so far, so we’ll see.”

 

 

Great Barrington Farmers' Market
West Stockbridge Farmers Market
Indian Line Farm
North Plain Farm

Lenox Farmers' Market

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January 2019

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Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

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Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
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Cost: Free

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370 Beach Road
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: free

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Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey

More information

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View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
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Gunn Memorial Library
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Blending nature and spirituality, Connecticut artist Lori Barker explores the rhythms of life in a new collection of mixed media works on display at the Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery from...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery
5 Wykeham Rd.
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey

More information

The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Zachary Zaitzeff is a painter living in the Hudson Valley who has incorporated his extensive world travel, including his 2011 summit of Mount Everest, into his artwork. Zachary spent 2018 studying...

Cost: free

Where:
RT Facts Gallery
8 Old Barns Rd
Kent, CT  06757
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Sponsor: RT Facts
Telephone: 860-927-1700
Contact Name: Natalie Randall
Website »

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Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
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We invite families to drop-in and enjoy interactive pop-up activity stations, gallery games, and art projects around the KMA.  Get inspired by Outrageous Ornament: Extreme Jewelry in the 21st...

Cost: Member price: Free Non-Member price: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Katonah Museum
134 Jay Street
Katonah, NY  10536
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Sponsor: Katonah Museum of Art
Telephone: 914-232-9555
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Calling all fans of Scottish food and Diana Galbaldon’s Outlander series. Don your tartan, make like Jamie’s clan motto and be ready! You’re invited to an amazing Outlander...

Cost: 100.00

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
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Telephone: 860-355-0300
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Friday, Jan. 25 Wilton Library Mini Golf Tourney for Adults, 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. The kids had so much fun at last year’s Mini Golf fundraiser, that Wilton Library is holding one for adults only...

Cost: $50 and up

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
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Sponsor: Wilton Library
Telephone: 203-762-3950
Contact Name: Wilton Library
Website »

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Original members of the Billy Joel Band featuring Liberty DeVitto on drums, Richie Cannata on saxophone and Russell Javors on rhythm guitar. The band recorded and toured extensively with Billy Joel...

Cost: $40

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Telephone: (203) 438-5795
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Born from humble beginnings in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport, CT The Alpaca Gnomes cut their teeth in the neighborhood bar scene by playing marathon shows filled with originals and a wide...

Cost: $15.00 - $20.00

Where:
Wall Street Theater
71 Wall Street
Norwalk, CT  06850
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Sponsor: Jeanne Moore
Telephone: (203) 831-5004
Contact Name: Jeanne Moore
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Are you a lifelong with a passion for sharing history? Find out about becoming a Museum Docent! Docents are trained volunteer educators who present guided tours and other education programs to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Bring the baby and enjoy a lively conversation inspired by the art on view. Enjoy light snacks while socializing with newly-made friends. Crying babies welcome and activities provided for older...

Cost: Member price: Free Non-Member price with Museum admission: Free

Where:
Katonah Museum of Art
134 Jay Street
Katonah, NY  10536
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Sponsor: Katonah Museum of Art
Telephone: 914-232-9555
Website »

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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

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In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

Blending nature and spirituality, Connecticut artist Lori Barker explores the rhythms of life in a new collection of mixed media works on display at the Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery from...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery
5 Wykeham Rd.
Washington, CT  06793
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Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey

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Winter Guided Hike @ Woodcock Nature Center Saturday January 26th, 10-11:30am, FREE ​ Join Mr. Sam for a hike where we'll investigate whats going on in nature in the winter season and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Woodcock Nature Center
56 Deer Run Road
Wilton, CT  06897
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Sponsor: Woodcock Nature Center
Telephone: (203) 762-7280
Contact Name: Sam Nunes
Website »

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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Saturday, Jan. 26 Mini Golf Family Day in the Stacks at Wilton Library, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wilton Library will hold its 2nd mini golf fundraising event. There will be food (each paid admission will...

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
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Sponsor: Wilton Library
Telephone: 203-762-3950
Contact Name: Wilton Library
Website »

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  Touchon transforms verbal language into handsome geometric compilations, to reveal the beauty and musicality of language characterized by warmly colored shapes, interlocking irregular grids and...

Cost: free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
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Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

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Zachary Zaitzeff is a painter living in the Hudson Valley who has incorporated his extensive world travel, including his 2011 summit of Mount Everest, into his artwork. Zachary spent 2018 studying...

Cost: free

Where:
RT Facts Gallery
8 Old Barns Rd
Kent, CT  06757
View map »


Sponsor: RT Facts
Telephone: 860-927-1700
Contact Name: Natalie Randall
Website »

More information

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Saturday, January 26th from 1:00 - 2:00 PM, Ages 4+ Attend for groovy crafts, snacks, games, and more in celebration of the Pete the Cat book series. This event is free and no registration is...

Cost: Free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
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Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

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Hudson Chorale, the area’s largest mixed voice chorus, is poised to please.  The group will begin its 2019 season with two matinee concerts on Saturday, January 26, 2019 at 3:00 pm and Sunday,...

Cost: Advance Sale-$25; Door-$30; Students-$10.

Where:
The Chapel at Maryknoll
55 Ryder Rd
Ossining, NY  10562
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Sponsor: Hudson Chorale
Telephone: 1-800-838-3006
Contact Name: Anne Norum
Website »

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Join us for a very special evening of music from these four accomplished singer songwriters: David Ray, Mike Latini, Dave Goldenberg, George Mallas.  

Cost: 20.00

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
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Telephone: 860-355-0300
Website »

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Join us for another incredible evening of music featuring four local singer songwriters performing original music! Doors open at 7pm in New Morning’s handicapped accessible Community Room on the...

Cost: Free

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
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Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
Website »

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