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Needham to welcome back Farmers Market

By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff

There’s something thrilling about going to a farmer’s market. Unlike a grocery store, the market adds a social aspect to the act buying fruits, vegetables and other local goods, produced by local merchants. Particularly after a year of COVID-19, it sounds like just what the doctor ordered.

And right on cue, the Needham Farmers Market is returning this summer for its tenth year. 

The plan for a Farmers Market began 12 years ago. After two years filled with planning and careful organizing, Needham was introduced to their farmers market in 2012. At the time, the market could be found on the lawn of First Parish, but it soon moved to a train station parking lot before finally arriving at its current home on Garrity’s Way in front of Town Hall. From the earliest days, vendors have fulfilled the market’s promise to bring nutritious, natural food to Needham. “We started with about eight vendors, plus artists, musicians and community organizations," explains Director of Marketing Ciara Ripperger of the Needham Farmers Market. "Most everyone had a close connection - and still does - with Needham, so it’s been quite easy to find new vendors locally - we are a very entrepreneurial town! The mission and focus of the market was to bring local food and introduce healthy options to the community while highlighting Needham’s traditional farming roots.”

Over the past decade, the market has grown enough to expand as its gained traction in the community. Location changes have helped manage the growing crowds and the recent social-distancing needs. “We’ve been able to expand onto the walkway on the Town Common as well, which helped so much last year. We were able to still have as many as 13 vendors, even while we had to space market tents and maintain social distancing, making sure there were a safe number of people within the market area at all times,” says Ripperger. 

This year, customers can expect some of last year’s safety measures to be permanent fixtures at the market, including social distancing, required masks, and the option to preorder products. “All our vendors make or grow what they sell and for a small business, being able to match the demand for the product with what you know you need … to bring to the market is super important. Part of creating a sustainable local food system is not having too much left over that gets wasted - or even worse, thrown away - at the end of the day. If shoppers pre-order, then this practice helps to cut down on the waste and signals to the vendors what exactly to focus on producing. A major plus is that by pre-ordering, shoppers won’t miss out on what they wanted to purchase if a vendor runs out of a particular item early in the day,” explains Ripperger. Links to preorder from this season’s merchants can be found at www.needhamfarmersmarket.org.

2021’s market season is shaping up to bring back some town favorites that were absent last year. “We’re excited to see our vendors returning this season, as well as a number of new vendors! To build new relationships in and around the community is a beautiful thing, and to learn about the people behind these foods and products and how passionate they are about local food and small business,” says Ripperger. In addition, shoppers will once again enjoy exploring the market while listening to some musical entertainment.

Perhaps most important is the return of the familial atmosphere that has always made the market so welcoming. “We’ll also be happy to see the families come out and introduce their young children to the market atmosphere, and to see the nature of farming. Last year was quite challenging because we had those capacity limits; it took until much later in the season when parents felt comfortable to come to the common and spend the afternoon with young children. We’re looking forward to having that community-feel atmosphere back again,” adds Ripperger. 

Shoppers can start getting excited about the market’s June 13 return.

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