BERLIN – Vendors and organizers are praising the success of Berlin’s new farmers market.
Since opening the new Berlin Farmers Market at Artisans Green last month, event organizer Ivy Wells, the town’s economic development director, said she has witnessed the market grow.
“I think it speaks volumes,” she said. “I watch people as they shop and they aren’t just coming here to buy a cucumber or one tomato. They are filling their bags with food for the week.”
Since opening on June 17, Wells said the farmers market has added one new vendor each week and, according to her estimates, has attracted hundreds of community members.
“I’ve been offering free, reusable bags to people who come to the farmers market and I’ve gone through two boxes of 500 since it’s opened,” she said, “and it’s only been a month.”
Market vendor Toby Gilbert, owner of Gilbert’s Provisions in Berlin, said he was thrilled by the community’s response to the farmers market. In the first weeks, for example, he said he sold out of his homemade sourdough bread within an hour.
“The first time I went I brought between 25 and 30 loaves and sold out in 45 minutes,” he said. “The next week I brought a dozen more and sold out again in the same time. This week I sold upwards of 50 loaves.”
Gilbert said the market’s location at Artisans Green – located between HOUSE and Go Organic in downtown Berlin – played a large role in its success.
“It makes it feel like something more of a community event then something you just show up too,” he said.
“It’s almost as if it’s turned into our town square where people come on Sundays and see their neighbors and catch up,” she said. “People stay a little bit longer. It’s not just a shopping trip, it’s an experience.”
Market vendor Carol Cross, owner of Cross Farms in Showell, said the town’s new farmers market was an improvement to the Downtown Berlin Farmers Market, which ceased operations in April. She said social media promotions and entertainment has brought with it more foot traffic.
“This farmers market has something for everyone,” she said. “It has a lot of attractions the other farmers market didn’t have.”
Vendor Tim Fields, manager of Baywater Farms in Salisbury, said he is impressed with the new market.
“It’s a great location and it’s very well organized,” he said. “It seems like an appropriate and diverse mix of vendors and caters to the types of people who live in Berlin.”
Wells said each week’s farmers market features locally grown or locally made products, live animals, games and music – partially paid for by a grant from the Worcester County Arts Council.
“I knew from the community’s feedback on how much they wanted a farmers market on Sundays,” Wells said. “They told me they would come out and support it and they have. The community has been wonderful in supporting our local farmers. It may have even exceeded my expectations.”
While she is no longer accepting more farmers, Wells said she is seeking other types of local vendors, including seafood retailers. She added she is also working on two initiatives to promote the farmers market.
“I’m encouraging restaurants to purchase some of their items from the farmers market, so they can feature a farmers market meal on their menu …,” she said. “I’m also working on a farm-to-table dinner on Artisans Green in the fall featuring products from the farmers market. It would be a fundraiser for the farmers market.”
The Berlin Farmers Market takes place every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through September.
“Some have been asking if it could be extended so I will leave that up to the community and to the farmers,” Wells said. “I have no problem keeping it open as long as people want it and farmers want to be there.”