This is one of a series of blog posts written by the summer interns in my office. This post was written by Zack Shea and Madison Shea and edited by Michael O’Neill.
The Sally Frank’s Farmers’ Market brings fresh produce, live music, handcrafted items, and more to Melrose every Thursday from spring through the end of fall—and one Sunday a month during the winter as well. The market is held at Bowdoin Park, next to the Cedar Park commuter rail stop, and the current hours are 2-6 p.m., and this year’s weekly market runs through October 27.
The farmers’ market was founded by Sally Frank in 1994 to bring fresh fruits and vegetables and locally produced goods to the people of Melrose. The market was named for Frank in 2005, when she handed over the reins to Heather Macdonald. Cindy Chabot is the current manager.
Many local vendors come to the market every week, and Chabot selects the vendors to maintain a balance of prepared and fresh foods. In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables in season, the vendors offer free-range eggs, fresh fish, homemade fresh bread, Lebanese hummus, olives, and popovers. Every other week Ackerman Farm sells maple syrup at the market; sometimes locally made oils and spices are sold as well. The meat sold at the market comes from grass-fed animals that haven’t been given hormones.
Volunteers, both on-site and off-site, are a big part of keeping the market running. The on-site volunteers set up and take down the stands, handle “Market Money” and SNAP dollars, and make sure all of the finances add up. They also run Club Sprouts, a tasting program where kids get clues about a “mystery food” before eventually getting to taste it. Moreover, volunteers help count market-goers and take pictures in order to keep track of how well the market is doing and report this information to current and potential vendors. The ones who don’t work on-site help with planning, recruiting vendors, writing the newsletter, running social media, and enlisting contributions from volunteers, businesses, crafters, artists and non-profits. Some also make signs and put them up around Melrose and others coordinate the website.
The market also holds many events. Once a month, master gardeners come and are available to answer local gardeners’ questions and test soil. Some weeks the Pedestrian and Bicycle Committee comes to the market to do simple bike repairs. Farms and organizations such as Curious Creatures bring animals to the farmers’ market so market-goers can learn about various types of livestock. Local organizations hold free tai chi and yoga demonstrations and classes.
Chabot loves the community; she says if you walk down the street you will always find someone you know. The market may be centered around fresh, nutritious food, but Chabot likes to see all the families that show up and get to enjoy a community-based event.
One of Chabot’s goals for the farmers’ market is to encourage SNAP shoppers, WIC shoppers, and shoppers using senior coupons to come to the market. These methods of payment are all accepted at the market, and the owners welcome all customers to come visit the farmers’ market.