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Natick - Local Town Pages

Market Days Are Here Again

By Sean Sullivan

The return of Natick’s farmer’s market to the great outdoors brings a more generous spread.

“We become larger,” said Deb Sayre. “There’s more food people.”


Like the patrons who frequent it, the event retreats indoors during colder months, within shelter of climate-controlled environs.   

Sayre hosted the inaugural market decades earlier, an event that has since grown by leaps and bounds in size and popularity. That first market a quarter century ago was a sidewalk show of local talent and goods.

It was held just outside the doors of Debsan, long a neighborhood staple and source for paint and other home decorating supplies. Sayre is the “Deb” in Debsan, whose father named the company after her and a sibling.

To Sayre’s knowledge, no known photographs exist of that first farmer’s market. She wasscrambling just to make the event a success, and promotional pictures weren’t on her radar during those busy days. And who could have predicted how the event would grow to such a degree over ensuing decades?

That initial market featured a few artists and crafters. Now, the Saturday outdoor market hosts a variety of revolving and favorite food vendors, all permitted by the town’s Board of Health.

Suburban markets like Natick’s can be a layup for vendors. Parking is a challenge for city markets like SOWA, one of Boston’s biggest. There, sellers often drive up to drop off and unload their wares, but then might have to go on the hunt for parking on some far-flung street or lot.

Nevertheless, SOWA is a must-see event for frequenters of farmer’s markets and seekers of vintage goods. And held on Sundays, it makes for a great weekend sequel and complement to Natick’s Saturday event.

Natick’s outdoor farmer’s market is bordered on its south and east sides by parking, allowing vendors to unload just a few steps from where commerce happens on the common.

“Natick’s really lucky to have a common,” said Sayre.

For patrons of the market, free overflow parking is available close by at the Town Hall and Pond Street lots.

The town’s event has evolved from that initial sidewalk market into an attraction that will feature 68 food vendors at last count. That’s in addition to the many artisans, musicians and other sellers who will make up the market’s outdoor roster, until the event returns indoors in November.

Since those early sidewalk days, the market has become a favorite of locals near and far.

“Then we’ve just grown from there,” said Sayre.

It helps to have a community that advocates for local commerce and creativity. Sayre has been working with Athena Pandolf, director of the Natick Center Cultural District, to plan and promote the town’s farmer’s market.

Many longtime vendors of the event, said Sayre, initially came for the exposure but stayed for the experience. While the sellers may have grown, the market has remained a valuable venue to get their name and products before customers.    

“The atmosphere is so community friendly,” said Sayre. “We’re an incubator for new companies. They tend to come and stay with us, unless they outgrow us and retire.”

The price, also, is right. At $20 or $25 per visit per vendor, the cost of admission to sell at Natick’s farmer’s market makes the event an attractive one for sellers trying to profit from their work.

“We have not raised our rates since we started,” said Sayre.

The town’s market is locally famous for its diversity of offerings. Local heirloom tomatoes neighbor the products of a potter’s imagination and hands. Freshly-picked mushrooms are sold alongside the work of local photographers.

The grinding wheel of a knife sharpener can be heard one Saturday, against the background music of a local band. A pop-up bicycle stand might appear one weekend for tune-ups, a stained-glass artist the next.

Tangerini’s Farm, Freight Farms and Little Beehive Farm will be returning as vendors to the village green. Representatives from town agencies are also slated to make an appearance, to talk up the resources and services their organizations provide.

“That’s a nice variety to have at a market,” said Sayre. “It’s going to be quite the opening.”