YARMOUTH — This year the Yarmouth Farmers Market will be twice as big as it’s been in the past.
The outdoor farmers market, which is hosted at 317 Main Community Music Center, will have more vendors and a new voucher program to help low-income residents. The market will open 3-6 p.m. every Thursday for the season beginning June 2. The venue will run through Sept. 29.
This is the second year the market will be held at the music center; before it was held on the town green. This year the market will have 17 vendors, which is double the number from last year.
Amy Sinclair, of 317 Main, said Yarmouth’s market needed to grow in order to compete with surrounding markets.
“For this to be realistic we have to meet Portland and Brunswick, which both have amazing farmers markets,” Sinclair said. “Ours needed to be more comprehensive.”
In the past the market mostly offered fruits and vegetables, but this year will have a wider variety of goods. There will be eggs, meats, seafood, baked goods, goat milk and cheese, frittatas, flowers and textile products. Meals and prepared foods will also be available, including soup from Kamasouptra and burritos from Locally Sauced.
Lobsters will be available alive or already prepared, or people can have their lobsters cooked at the market.
Sinclair said the new options make it easier for people to create a full meal just from things purchased at the market.
“It was harder to put that together last year,” she said.
The hope, Sinclair said, is to draw more people.
“For people who are dedicated to farmers markets, we need to give them a reason to shop in town,” she said.
Last year’s market did well, but Sinclair said the changes are necessary for it to be a true success.
“The feedback was very positive, but when people ask how it did, I say it was moderately successful,” she said. “But for it to be sustainable in this community we need to increase traffic.”
To bring more people to the market, 317 Main is trying to make the location more visible. The hedge was removed from the front of the lawn where the market is held, and Sinclair has been promoting the weekly event online. It now has a website, yarmouthfarmersmarket.org.
Much of the growth was made possible through the market’s new sponsors: the organization received $3,500 from Royal River Heat Pumps and $1,000 from the town’s Bessie Farwell Fund.
Sinclair said it feels good to have the town’s support, and she hopes more people will continue to shop at the market so it can become a Yarmouth staple.
“For a farmers market to be really sustainable here, families really have to buy into it and decide they want this to be part of the fabric of Yarmouth,” Sinclair said.
To make sure everyone in town can shop at the market, a new voucher program has been created for low-income families. The program, which makes $5 and $10 vouchers available for fruits and vegetables, was created by Yarmouth High School junior Katie Waeldner.
“Hunger in Yarmouth is important to me, and making sure everyone is food secure,” Waeldner said.
The vouchers are for Yarmouth residents only and will work on an honor system so no one has to provide proof of income. The vouchers will be available at the market and at the Yarmouth Food Pantry.
“Katie was the moral conscience for me that this is the right thing to do,” Sinclair said.
The market will continue to have live music from 4-5:30 p.m., and, when student musicians play, people can donate money that will be used to fund the voucher program. The program, called Will Play for Food, is being considered a pilot program this year, Sinclair said.
Waeldner said the voucher program is important because it can be difficult to afford healthy food when money is tight.
“This gives them the opportunity to feed their families in a healthy way,” she said.
Sinclair agreed that the program is important for low-income families.
“We want everyone to be a part of (the market),” she said. “It shouldn’t be that only people who can afford premium produce should be able to come.”
Making the farmers market enjoyable and accessible for all people is key, Sinclair said.
“We want everyone to come to this market,” she said. “317 hosts it, but this is the community’s market.”
The Yarmouth Farmers Market, hosted by 317 Main Community Music Center and Amy Sinclair, at right, will be doubling in size this year and will include a voucher program created by Yarmouth High School junior Katie Waeldner, left.