The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 25, 2005

Features

The Carlisle Farmers Market — a new tradition?

Coffee Group

Paul Kress (center) has Conservation Coffee attendees all smiles when he recalls his farming days back in Ohio buring the '30s and '40s. From left to right are Sylvia Willard, Mary Zoll, Seba Gaines, Paul Kress, Ed Humm and Bob Wallhagen. (Photo by Susan Goodall)

The successful debut of the Carlisle Farmers Market is promising an even more satisfying re-run beginning about June 15, 2006. Reporting to the dozen or so supporters gathered for the monthly Conservation Coffee at Town Hall on November 8, market founders John Lee and Gale Constable stated the facts and figures, but even more important, conveyed the community spirit that had reigned at last summer's Saturday morning get-togethers.

Constable reported that the most common comments heard were, "It's a great meeting place — a real social event," or, "You run into people you haven't seen since the kids graduated from the Carlisle Schools." While crediting her co-sponsor Annette Lee for contributing a large portion of the leg work involved in finding the right location, getting the tacit support of town officials, including the Selectmen, the Board of Health, the police, etc., she stressed that the market is not a town function. Equally important, it is not a for-profit undertaking. (The fee for participating as a vendor on a given day was a mere $5.) Rather, she emphasized that everyone who took part, whether as vendor or customer, contributed to the success of the project. "We did not want to impose a structure, "she said.

Paul Kress (center) has Conservation Coffee attendees all smiles when he recalls his farming days back in Ohio buring the '30s and '40s. From left to right are Sylvia Willard, Mary Zoll, Seba Gaines, Paul Kress, Ed Humm and Bob Wallhagen.
John Lee and Gail Constable
Although the organizers contacted professional farmers in the area, they showed little interest. Most of the produce was Carlisle-grown and ranged from fruits and vegetables to cheese, eggs, flowers, honey and home-baked goods. "We're interested in anyone who grows things," said Lee. However, locally-created crafts were certainly welcome, and added to the festive ambience. There was a total of 42 vendors, some of them youngsters, and most were sold out. As Lee summed it up, "Word of mouth is the best way to go. It was a lot of fun, and that was what sold it."

Carlisle residents Edward and Beverly Humm, Carol Foster and Paul Kress, who are regular tillers at the Foss Farm Community Gardens, added their kudos, stressing that "people need to know what it's like to have really fresh vegetables, and kids in particular get to appreciate where food comes from and how much work and expertise are involved."

As for next year, the same basic rules will apply. Only Massachusetts-grown, and preferably Carlisle-grown, produce will be accepted. Vendors will be responsible for their own set-up and clean-up, and to that end, a sheet of guidelines is being developed. The fee will probably be raised a bit, and more advertising is envisioned. According to Constable, this year's participants have learned that the best strategy is to find a niche offering, so several local gardeners are planning to cultivate a market for a few specialty items.

Warm thanks went to Kimball Farms' owner Mike Kimball, who not only was a welcoming host, but even swept the stall area early each Saturday morning. As with last summer's start up, it appears that community energy and enthusiasm are the force that may well produce a new Carlisle tradition.


2005 The Carlisle Mosquito