WINCHESTER, N.H.. >> On June 4, the first ever farmer's market will come to this town of 4,300 people in the southwest corner of the Granite State.
The idea of a Farmers Market in Winchester stemmed from the Revitalization/Economic Development Commission, which seeks to promote the natural and economic assets of the town by supporting and assisting existing businesses. Appointed Market Manager and RED committee member Gloria Leustek feels the market will help their area in several ways.
"There's really no place for people to get food in town except for one local supermarket; there is no other place for people to get fresh food in town" said Leustek. "And we do have three other local farms, but this brings it all to one central location."
She says the market will offer fresh vegetables, fruit, pork, rabbit, bread, baked goods, pickled and canned items, herbal oils and other options from their vendors, which include, but are not limited to, Porcupine Acres, in Winchester; Up The Hill Farm and Cat Den Mountain Farm Bakery, both in Ashuelot; and Lazy Dog's Farm and Winery and Kernel Bakery, from Peterborough.
Leustek noted that in Winchester there are some families struggling financially and this will provide an opportunity for locals to have access to fresh produce. According to New Hampshire Employment Security, in 2014, 18 percent of individuals living in Winchester lived below the poverty line and the per capita income was $22,839.
Those organizing this inaugural gathering felt Saturday was the best day to host the farmers market, as Leustek says there are more people in town, particularly those who enjoy antiquing. The first one will be held on June 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 111 Main St., near the gazebo, which is the same location where the annual Pickle Festival is held.
"This being our first year, I hope to have everyone in the area there. Anyone driving through should come support us so that they can enjoy fresh produce and goods too," said Leustek.
However, Winchester is not putting this together alone. They have received insight from their neighbors at the Hinsdale Farmers Market, which will hold its opening day this year on Sunday, May 22, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Millstream Riverfront Park in downtown. The organizers of the Winchester and Hinsdale farmers markets have shared ideas, vendors and promotional efforts. Leustek said both farmers markets have referenced one another to their vendors.
"Aside from neighbors should help neighbors, I think Winchester and Hinsdale have a similar demographic and similar needs," said Sean Leary, co-founder and one of the market managers at the Hinsdale Farmers Market. "It seemed natural to help them when they said wanted to start up one."
In noting some of the economic struggles in the town, Leustek said they are eventually interested in making the Winchester Farmers Market available to those who wish to use their Electronic Benefit Transfer cards. Leary said a few days ago he submitted an application that will allow people to use their EBT cards.
Leustek mentioned one of their main goals on the RED committee is to bring economic development to Winchester. She feels that the Farmers Market is yet another step to help them accomplish their goal and Leary agrees.
"They've done a lot for their downtown area development by rehabbing old buildings, putting placards on telephone poles, and for them to do a market only enhances their downtown area," he said.
In working together cooperatively, Leary said he has found it "cool" at how open everyone is with sharing information with one another.
"It's really nice when people are interested in providing local produce, hot prepared foot, sauces and all the local stuff you can't get everywhere," he added.
Leary said the organizers of the Hinsdale Farmers Market have also provided some insight on the hurdles they face since they started in 2014, such as finding and keeping vendors and a customer base. He noted for some it has been challenging to convince residents to choose a locally grown product over a mass produced one.
"People ask why that ear of corn is twice as much, how's it better and what's the difference. I say, if you try it, you can taste the difference," Leary said.
For more information about the Winchester Farmer's market email Leustek at firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information about the Hinsdale Farmer's Market email questions, comments or concerns to email@example.com
Maddi Shaw can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext 275