Farmers team with Scarborough Economic Development Corp. for fresh marketing approach
SCARBOROUGH — For those who love to buy fresh and local, Scarborough is the place to be on Sunday mornings this summer.
Every Sunday from June 21 through Sept. 13, vendors will gather from 9 a.m. to noon in the lower parking lot behind Town Hall to sell everything from fresh vegetables to coffee at a farmers market sponsored by the Scarborough Economic Development Corp.
"Last year, our goal was three test markets and one got rained out," Julie Bassett, assistant director of SEDCO, said. "This year, we talked to a bunch of people who told us 'you should do it every week.'"
Bassett and volunteers Jim Damicis and Marla Zando have sent packets to about 30 vendors, about a dozen of whom have already confirmed their participation for at least some of the weekly markets. This year, there is no cost to sell at the market; only a signed release and proof of insurance are required, Bassett said.
So far, the market is shaping up to have a variety of items for sale, including fruits and vegetables, herbs, artisan cheese, bread, honey, lobster, eggs, plants and coffee. Under state regulations, any product sold at a farmers market must be at least 75 percent grown or processed in Maine.
Stacy Brenner and her husband, John Bliss, manage Broadturn Farm, which is a Community Supported Agriculture property in conservation with the Scarborough Land Conservation Trust. Broadturn's 100 acres of rich soil yields a variety of crops that its members can enjoy.
In addition to selling their produce, meat and poultry through their CSA, Brenner and Bliss plan to sell produce at this summer's farmers markets, encouraged by their success last year. By taking part in the informal events, Brenner said it gives more residents access to fresh organic produce.
But what she said she enjoyed most about last season was witnessing friends and neighbors who had not seen each other in years greet one another as they met by chance at the open-air market.
"I would really stress what a great opportunity it is to engage with your neighbors while supporting local farms and artisans," she said.
Another return vendor is Elizabeth Peoples, of Spurwink Road, who will sell herbs, cheeses and honey.
"It was terrific (last year)," Peoples said. "It's wonderful to have a market that's local and accessible to people who don't want to or can't get into Portland. And it's promoting farms in Scarborough that often don't get recognized, even though they're providing outside of Scarborough."
An herbalist for about five years, Peoples said it just made sense to raise bees to help pollinate her crops and raise the quality of her products.
Though in future years operation of the farmers markets may be turned over to Scarborough Community Services or to someone else, Bassett said for this year it made sense for SEDCO to bring it through the first full summer.
"We're trying to make it a community event," Bassett said. "We think it's going to be really successful."
For more information, contact Bassett at the SEDCO office, 883-4893, or by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or email@example.com.