Danvers Rotarian Dr. Bill Nolan recalled taking his family to the Salem Farmers’ Market and wondering: Why can’t Danvers do this?
Nolan and the Rotary Club of Danvers are hoping to bring a farmers’ market to Danvers, but there is a lot left to do before that can happen.
Nolan appeared before the Danvers Board of Selectmen on Tuesday to present the idea. Selectmen supported the idea of a farmers’ market, but they were unsure whether it would work.
The Rotarians want to open the farmers’ market from 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays from mid-June to mid-October in part of the Hobart Street parking lot next to the rail trail.
Nolan said surveys show that people who attend farmers’ markets also go to nearby businesses. A market will offer fresh produce to Danvers residents while keeping dollars in town, he said.
Nolan said he has reached out to the Federation of Massachusetts Farmers Markets and they are providing the Rotary with guidance on how to create a market, including vendor policies. If the Rotary gets approval to run the market, the Massachusetts group will give guidance, he said.
Nolan said Rotary volunteers would be at the farmers’ market each week and make sure everything is taken away by the vendors.
Nolan said the proposed market would take up a portion of the parking lot, but still leave plenty of parking spaces available for nearby businesses.
Selectmen liked the idea of a farmers’ market, but voiced caution until some issues are straightened out – namely whether downtown businesses would support the market.
Selectman Dan Bennett quipped that the Rotary was putting “the vegetables before the cart” because there are still “hurdles” needed to clear for a farmers’ market in Danvers.
Nolan was told to speak with nearby businesses, including the Cherry Street Fish Market. Nolan said the Rotary would create a situation so that there aren’t any fish markets at the farmers’ market so as to not take away business from Cherry Street Fish Market.
Selectman Bill Clark has been involved with farmers’ market for 40 years. He offered advice and provided background information to Nolan. He said successful markets need about 30 volunteers per week and about 15 vendors.
He also offered a word of caution.
“There are not enough farms to take care of all the farmers’ markets,” said Clark.
Selectmen Chairman Gardner Trask said the Rotary’s plan would take up a “sizable amount of the parking lot.” Though he supports the idea, Trask said the selectmen will “rely heavily” on the thoughts of the Downtown Improvement Committee.
Nolan will speak to that committee on Tuesday morning.
“I would be very happy to see a farmers’ market down there… as long as it works out on everyone’s behalf,” said Trask.
The selectmen asked Nolan to return at the board’s next meeting to give an update.