It's about to get easier to buy fresh, local food in Walpole from neighbors who grow it. Walpole farmers are happy to announce the creation of a weekly Walpole Farmers Market (WFM). Beginning Friday, May 21, it will be held every Friday from 3 until 6 p.m. throughout the season. Except for three Fridays later in the season when The Common was already reserved for other uses, it will be held on The Walpole Town Common.
Walpole farmers who sell direct to the public have been working together to draft guidelines for the conduct of the WFM. All Walpole farmers are invited to become members of this cooperative venture, and to have a vending space at the market. Farmers from beyond Walpole will be invited to join the WFM to offer products that are not available from Walpole farmers. Prepared food vendors and crafters will also be invited to join the market, in numbers that will compliment, but not overwhelm, the agricultural emphasis of the WFM.
The WFM is a response to demand from both customers and vendors of fresh local food. TriVillage Energy (TVE), Walpole's energy committee, has sponsored a number of special occasion Farmers Markets that were wildly successful, and met with demands from both sides of the market stand for more markets. At this past Town Meeting, TVE took a survey of voters to assess interest in a regular Farmers Market and to find out when shoppers would like the market to be.
Of 349 people taking the survey, 342 reported they did want to see a Farmers Market in Walpole. Written comments and the survey takers indicated that this response was not a simple yes, but an excited, enthusiast, vibrant YES!!! The majority of respondents requested that the market be held Friday afternoons.
Even those voting for a Friday market expressed concern, however, that the WFM not compete with the Bellows Falls Farmers Market, which is also held on Friday afternoons, from 4 pm to 7 pm. Organizers of the WFM shared this concern, and on the survey suggested other possible days and times. Another, but less popular choice with voters, was Sunday afternoon. Many Walpole farmers had a conflict with church or family commitments, so Sunday had to be ruled out. Weekdays got a very weak response on the survey and those had to be ruled out as well. Similarly, Saturdays had conflicts for the farmers and a very weak response on the survey.