The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 13, 2005


A Carlisle Farmers Market?

"Community support grows for a farmers market in Carlisle" read an article in the April 22 issue of the Mosquito. Talking privately with people I know around town, I found that there is considerable support for the idea, which would provide a retail outlet for farm produce and related products. So what has been happening so far with an actual plan to make such a market possible? This week I spoke with several people who have expressed support for the idea — Conservation Commission Administrator Sylvia Willard, manager of Foss Farm garden plots Bob Dennison, a Foss Farm gardener Bill Hamilton, who is especially interested in bringing this idea to fruition, and John Lee of Lowell Street who runs the Allendale Farm in Boston.

First of all there is a need for some sort of town Agriculture Commission, which would take responsibility for organizing the market. Bill Hamilton suggests a three-member board to get things going. There will need to be contact with town boards — the Board of Health, for sure. Legal requirements and taxes need to be looked into. Who the vendors would be and where they would come from are issues that must be decided.

Where would a farmers market be located? So far the locations suggested have been Foss Farm off Bedford Road, the school parking lot on Church Street, and the parking lot behind Town Hall on Westford Street. There is some concern about the Foss Farm parking area due to horseback riding in the area and poor visibility driving off and on to busy Bedford Road. On the other hand there may be gardeners right there from the Foss Farm plots who would like to man a booth. "There are some terrific gardeners in this area," reports Hamilton. And when should the market be open? Hamilton suggests Saturday mornings from 6:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.

What might be sold at a farmers market? Fresh produce, of course, but what about homemade goods like jams and jellies, home-baked pies, cakes and breads? Maple syrup and honey produced in Carlisle, which often are on sale at Old Home Day, ought to have a vendor. Flowers and goat cheese are other items that could be sold.

John Lee of Allendale Farm reports a back-to-the-land movement all over the state. Farmers markets are starting up in many nearby communities. "The more vendors we have, the better off we will be," says Lee. "The local people will come first, but others from the nearby areas should be included."

Another aspect of a weekend farmers market is the opportunity for Carlisleans to get together and socialize. What could be nicer on a Saturday morning in August than a cup of coffee with a fresh blueberry muffin, tomatoes to take home for supper, and a chance to chat with local gardeners and neighbors gathered at a Carlisle farmers market?

So what are we waiting for? Let's get going: vegetables are sprouting!

Learning Carlisle's history

This year marks Carlisle's bicentennial as an incorporated town. As a child, I remember learning the word "bicentennial" with respect to the United States' celebration of 200 years of independence. But more than just occasions for celebration, bicentennials are good excuses to better acquaint ourselves with local history.

Living in the limelight of neighboring Concord, it's easy to think that a small town like Carlisle does not have any particularly interesting history. Though perhaps not as dramatic, there is plenty of Carlisle history to be learned. And I believe that learning cultural or social history is much more interesting if it is attached to a place we know well.

The 482-page book Carlisle, Its History and Heritage, by Ruth Chamberlin Wilkins, provides a more detailed and comprehensive coverage of Carlisle's history than one could imagine. I started reading it several years ago, but did not find the time to finish the book. Hopefully, I will this year.

In the past several months I have found some other enjoyable ways to learn more about Carlisle's history, along with my nine-year-old son. The Carlisle School assigned family-homework for all third graders last fall, to visit and record in pictures at least 10 historical and natural sites in Carlisle, chosen from a list of about 20. Even those of us reasonably familiar with Carlisle and its historic buildings and sites learned something new. This was one assignment that my husband and I each wanted to do with our son.

A month later, inspired by the project, my son and I visited the Carlisle Historical Society's new public display at the Heald House on Concord Street, during one of its monthly open houses. Wow, a real historic museum in Carlisle! Historical artifacts, all from Carlisle, included a musket that was actually used in the Battle of Concord on April 19, 1775.

I was presented with another opportunity to learn about local history as the leader of my son's Cub Scout den. "The Past is Exciting and Important" is one of the Achievements Scouts can earn toward the Bear Cub badge. We visited Gleason Library, where reference librarian and archivist Conni Manoli-Skocay gave a brief presentation about the town's historic archives kept upstairs in the Hollis Room. We looked at old photos and photocopies of old documents, such as the budget for constructing the current building of the First Religious Society.

Finally, on the weekend of Carlisle's actual birthday in February, my children and I attended the very educational and entertaining short play on Carlisle's history, Under the Chestnut Tree, by Mosquito writer Anne Marie Brako. This was indeed a fun and memorable way to learn about Carlisle's earliest settlers.

Although it helped in my case, you don't need children to have fun discovering local history. Hopefully, we will continue our interest in learning about and preserving Carlisle's history well beyond this bicentennial year.


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2005 The Carlisle Mosquito