Supporting Organization Spotlight: Westminster Farmers Market
In 2018 the Westminster Farmers Market celebrated its 10 Year Anniversary. Taking place on Fridays from 3-6pm at Academy Hill in Westminster the market boasts over twenty vendors each week offering everything from produce to skin care products. The Westminster Farmers Market began in 2008 through a unique partnership between the Westminster Agricultural Commission and Mass Local Food Co-op. The combination strengthened vendor signup and success while contributing to the rapid growth of the Co-op and farmers market alike. Inspired by a survey of the townspeople asking what the most appreciated activity that the newly formed Ag Com could do for the town, they spoke loudly that a farmers market was needed.
The volunteers from Mass Local Food were critical to the early year’s successes. The first market manager demanded civility and open information flow and the market coordinators have held to that standard through the years. Each new manager added their talents and perspective building the markets success and high standards. At its start it was a good market with over 10 vendors. Since then, it has enjoyed growth to 20 vendors plus per diems over the past 6 years. Vendors usually return year after year, although as common with most markets, some vendor turnover is seen. The market offers produce, meats, eggs, baked goods, preserves, crafts and more.
In crafting the markets’ success outreach has proven essential. The market coordinators use all the tools at hand but it is seen as a weak link by the coordinators as tech-outreach strengthens against in-person connections. The market has a Facebook page, coordinate winter educational events and send out weekly newsletters. Four years after its inception the market added music and monthly programming. The market music coordinator initially struggled to secure musicians who would play for tips, they found programmatic success as a result of grants and sponsorships that allow for a small performance stipend and enjoy a list of musicians eager to participate in the market.
Starting and running a successful Farmers Markets is a significant undertaking. The Westminster Market has an on-site manager for market day but the rest of the market minutia is handled by volunteers, some AG Com, some friends of the Ag Com Community. It helps local farmers, creates an outreach component for the AG Com, provides a venue for education and has become a community event. This works as long as there are volunteers to step forward. The market community is looking forward to the next market year and welcoming of additional volunteers to contribute to its success.