Markets

Northampton’s farmers markets get official salute

NORTHAMPTON — Whether or not it’s her sweet-tasting Adriatic figs or Magic Mollie purple potatoes, Linda Lazarus of Twin Oaks Farms places as a lot love into promoting her produce as she does rising it.

“You’ve gotta do this,” she says to a buyer on the Saturday Farmers Market in Northampton. “We’re the one ones which have these figs right here they usually’re ripe sufficient to eat. Proper now.”

Lazarus, who’s in her 70s, has been promoting her natural produce and crops on the Northampton farmers marketplace for almost 50 years. Though she has a number of sclerosis, a illness that impacts the spinal twine, mind and optic nerves, she nonetheless loves digging within the grime.

“I like to crawl round up and down the rows, and digging for potatoes. With the birds singing and the quiet throughout … there’s simply nothing higher,” she stated.

Lazarus, who runs her Feeding Hills farm alongside her husband, John Spineti, is one in every of roughly seven distributors who make up the Saturday Farmers Market on Gothic Road in Northampton, which is one in every of roughly 250 seasonal and winter farmers markets throughout the state that affords farmers the flexibility to promote on to shoppers.

On Saturday, that specific notion was acknowledged by the Baker-Polito administration, which declared Aug. 7 by way of Aug. 13 “Farmers Market Week” together with the Nationwide Farmer Markets Week. In celebration of this recognition, John Lebeaux, commissioner of the state Division of Agricultural Sources, visited the Northampton market in addition to the Holyoke Farmers Market at Metropolis Corridor, and offered a proclamation on behalf of the state.

Days previous to the go to to Northampton, Lebeaux and Ashley Randle, deputy commissioner and coverage and legislative director for the agriculture division, visited farmers markets in Framingham, Truro, Cambridge, Brighton, Wayland and Watertown.

“Every market is so distinctive. And coming to Northampton, the variety that we see right here within the distributors is completely different from what we’d see in Holyoke,” stated Randle.

She additionally recommended Northampton market supervisor Rick Tracy, of Intervale Farm in Westhampton, for sustaining the market in his position as supervisor for the reason that early Nineteen Eighties and for being a Wholesome Incentive Program vendor. This system, generally often called HIP, helps SNAP (Supplemental Vitamin Help Program) shoppers purchase extra vegetables and fruit for his or her households.

“I couldn’t do that on my own. I’ve a number of help from the opposite distributors and from the shoppers who make all of it occur,” stated Tracy. “I do suppose it’s an actual tribute to town and the encompassing areas that Northampton can proceed to help 4 farmers markets.”

Through the temporary ceremony, Lebeaux stated farmers markets create financial vitality for farmers and meals producers and for the communities the place the markets are positioned. There are 7,241 farms within the state, farming on almost 500,000 acres of land and producing almost $500 million in enterprise yearly, he stated.

“We’re fifth within the nation for direct farm-to-consumer gross sales. Over $100 million of farm gross sales yearly is retail, bought at both a farm stand, the farmers market, or a community-supported agricultural farm,” stated Lebeaux. “Right here in Hampshire County, there are nearly 700 farms on over 50,000 acres, producing over $46 million in gross sales every year. … Our go to is to make it possible for shoppers of Massachusetts are conscious of all the advantages of the farmers markets as a result of our farmers depend on these direct gross sales.”

Along with Lebeaux, Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra, state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, and Edith Murnane, govt director of Mass Farmers Markets, additionally shared some remarks.

Sciarra stated she sees town’s 4 farmers markets — on Saturday at Gothic Road, Tuesday at Armory Road, on Wednesday at Florence Middle and the winter farmers market at Conz Road — as way more than a spot to buy contemporary produce straight from farmers and producers.

“I actually view them as an important a part of our tradition. They’re a part of the material of our lives within the spring and the summer season within the fall, because the completely different crops change and their central assembly locations. They’re extremely essential in Northampton,” she stated.

Since taking workplace, Comerford stated she has come to know how difficult it may be as a farmer within the state.

“It is rather laborious to farm in Massachusetts. It’s costly to farm. The stakes for our farmers are intensely excessive. And so, entities like farmers markets are, because the commissioner rightly stated, shops to have the ability to have a good sale of the produce that they work laborious for,” stated Comerford. “So I’m delighted to be right here to have fun with you all … You couldn’t consider western Massachusetts with out agriculture. So it is a day to actually have fun them.”

Emily Thurlow might be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.

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