Outdoor Farmers Market Returns
By Sean Sullivan
Last month saw the return of Natick’s celebrated farmer’s market to the Town Common.
It was a winter which some said seemed to linger long past its welcome (despite a dearth of snow). And the popping of white vendor tents on the Natick green is an exercise in hope that sunny and warmer days have taken up residence.
May 6th was the official opening day for the outdoor market, which runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays in spring, summer and autumn. During winter, the market moves indoors to the Common Street Spiritual Center overlooking the quad.
A new feature this year is an effort of community outreach. This month, Natick’s fire chief will attend the market in the spirit of meeting and greeting, answering the questions of captivated children. Last month, a Natick police officer was featured at the market.
“I’m kind of bringing this community connection kind of thing,” said Deb Sayre. She has been the organizational spirit fueling the farmer’s market for many years now.
Members of Natick’s Select Board are expected to make an appearance at the market in coming months, though the dates had yet to be finalized.
“People run into old friends and make new,” said Sayre. “It’s kind of the atmosphere of community.
The Natick farmer’s market was founded in 1996. “We’ve been doing this for about twenty-five years,” said Sayre of the event, which has been stewarded by various leaders over the decades. “It’s been delightful.”
For some vendors, the weekly event has been a dependable sales outlet through which they can vend their goods directly to customers. The face-to-face interactions enable both sides of the transaction to establish a relationship – for each to see the groups of people that comprise creators and consumers.
Many NFM vendors truck in perishable food items, wares not suitable for shipping or storing over long distances and durations. For them, farmer’s markets like Natick’s can act as a satellite sales channel, a quick conduit directly to customers.
For other sellers and artists, the farmer’s market is a first foray into presenting their offerings to the public. The cost of vending at the event is low, and friends and family are often on hand to offer support - emotional and economical.
“So we act as an incubation for some people. It’s a great way for their creativity to be represented and appreciated.” Over recent seasons, she added, the market has seen a greater participation by a much younger cohort of vendors.
“There’s more food, more government connection, more youth connection,” said Sayre of market, which currently is comprised of about 60 food vendors and 350 crafters. What’s needed now, she added, are more volunteers – locals who want to help out with and learn the finer points of facilitating the event.
“I’m multitasking,” said Sayre over the phone as she was refueling her car. “I just got gas.”
Sayre also works as a substitute teacher at Wilson Middle School. After so many years running the market, she’s envisioning the days when others will assume that leadership and organizational role.
“Somebody will need to know what to do.”