Amherst Winter Farmers Market to Follow Boston’s Lead

Farmers, students and community members are working to bring a year-round public market to Amherst, Massachusetts. The model draws on similar markets including one slated to open next winter in Boston.

Bernard Brennan owns Amethyst Farm in Amherst. He’s been working with Transition Amherst for about a year. That’s the organization planning what they’re calling an “All Things Local” store. Brennan says the store would sell local produce and artisan goods — much like what’s available at farmers markets across the Pioneer Valley. He says for growers like himself, farmers markets don’t provide enough access to buyers.

“Often there’s a weekly — like a Saturday farmers market. So they’re limited in their time. They actually have to staff a farmers market. If they have to stand at a farmers market they can’t be farming.”

Brennan says the “All Things Local” store would be a cooperative retail outlet. That means farmers could drop off produce, name a price, and have co-op members deal with everything else. And — he says — the market would be open 5-6 days a week all year long.

David Weber is with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. He says another thing traditional farmers markets are missing is the infrastructure of commercial grocery stores. That’s where the new Boston Public Market comes in.

“It will provide a year-round permanent venue for local farmers and other types of local food products. With built out stalls that have electricity and running water and refrigeration and all the things you need to sell meats and seafood and dairy products.”

Weber says the latest census study shows Massachusetts farms grew by 27% from 2002-2007. And he adds there aren’t enough venues for local crops to reach Massachusetts consumers. The Boston Public Market should be open in 2014.