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Rotary Club Wants to Bring Farmers’ Market to Danvers

The Danvers Rotary is proposing a farmers’ market at the Hobart Street parking lot.

The Danvers Rotary Club would like to create a farmers' market like the one in Salem. Photo credit: Patch file photo.
The Danvers Rotary Club would like to create a farmers' market like the one in Salem. Photo credit: Patch file photo.

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. 

Lisa Gadbois Driscoll April 03, 2014 at 08:20 PM
With two working farms that relay on local business, would this help their business or compete? Salem and Beverly have great Farmer's Markets but no working farms. I do not know, do Ipswich and Hamilton have Farmer's Markets? They have working farms. I love visiting local far stands as well as local Farmer's Markets. More vendors offer more variety.
jason April 04, 2014 at 07:42 AM
I think it's a great idea for local people to get out and interact casually instead of rushing through a supermarket. I also feel it would get more people involved in the rail trail. A lot of potential with a local farmers market I vote YES
Megan McRae April 04, 2014 at 04:14 PM
I think its a fantastic idea! I don't live in Danvers but work here and this would be so easy for me to pop by after work.
Michele Maurice April 04, 2014 at 09:21 PM
Wonderful idea, but with Middleton holding a Farmers Market on Wednesday's, Salem on Thursday's, and Topsfield on Saturday's I question the availability of local farmers, products and interest. Let's not forget that Danvers has Clark Farm, Connors Farm and other locations for fresh produce and locally produced products. Will enough vendors participate to attract and maintain the interest throughout the season? Perhaps the vendors already participating in other farmer's markets have the greatest insight into this opportunity.
MEB April 05, 2014 at 09:59 AM
This is crazy talk! Of course the local farms can support this. Invite other farms nearby to participate if you really don't think there are enough. What about other types of hand made products, such as jams, soaps, crafts? Why not include some smaller home gardener's produce? The interest and desire by the community to make this happen is huge, and if we don't do it, people will go to another town and spend their money there. (They already do). Also, I think this would be best done on a weekend morning or afternoon. I don't understand why farmers markets are often held during the week when it's hard for working people to get there.

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