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Great Barrington Farmers’ Market begins its 28th season

The Great Barrington Farmers' Market is a producers-only market in the heart of historic Great Barrington and is lucky enough to be the host of 36 weekly vendors representing a wide array of the Berkshire dynamic food landscape.

Great Barrington — The Great Barrington Farmers’ Market has returned for its 28th year and will be in operation every Saturday from until Oct. 27 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 18 Church St. The Great Barrington Farmers’ Market is a producers-only market in the heart of historic Great Barrington and is lucky enough to be the host of 36 weekly vendors representing a wide array of the Berkshire dynamic food landscape. These vendors include organic vegetables and flowers, artisanal cheeses, sourdough breads, Massachusetts maple syrup, heirloom-quality crafts, organic baby food, herbal products, mushrooms, fresh tacos, organic fruit, baked goods, shrubs, popsicles, grilled sausage, ready-to-eat meals, preserves, fermented foods, small-batch coffee, meat, dairy, artisanal chocolate, honey and much more. All of the vendors come from within 50 miles of the market; they are the friends and neighbors of many of the customers. At a producers-only market, the vendors are the makers, growers and sellers of the products they offer. This promotes integrity in the market system and fosters a connection between farmers and customers. Ingredients used in prepared food come from local sources. The vendors can often be seen picking up ingredients from one another as the market ends.

As a market, GBFM celebrates and promotes the idea that businesses can be easy on the Earth, regenerative for the land — that food can be used as medicine for the body, mind and the planet; and that where you spend your dollar can make a difference.

When you come to the market, you are likely to hear jazzy tunes from the Lucky 5 and smell the fresh tortillas on the griddle or the charcoal smoke of Sean Stanton’s grill. Children run around playing tag, families picnic on the lawn and groups sip coffee in the shade of tents. You’ll run into friends and neighbors, and chat with farmers about new vegetables and how to enjoy them. Just along side of the farmers’ market, you’ll find GBFM’s sister market, the wonderful Great Barrington Arts Market, full of the stunning works of local artisans and crafts people.

The market serves a wide range of the community, drawing visitors and locals from around the county and country. It offers a SNAP doubling program that has grown exponentially each year since its inception. With support from the Berkshire Co-op Market, Jane Iredale Mineral Cosmetics, Lee Bank and Greylock Federal Credit Union, the market offers a dollar-for-dollar match on SNAP purchases up to $25. In addition to the doubling program, SNAP customers are able to use their Healthy Incentives Program benefits, when available, with three produce vendors. HIP is an incentive program that pays customers back for whatever produce purchases they make at participating farms. In this way, SNAP-eligible customers are able to increase their buying power at the market. That money, in turn, stays in the local economy. Beyond the doubling of SNAP and the HIP program, GBFM also works to provide additional monetary incentives to customers using WIC or Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program checks. These programs are good for the community, good for the farmers and good for the Berkshires.

On an average Saturday, GBFM welcomes 500 people to its four-hour Market. Downtown is bustling and full on these mornings. GBFM is lucky to be housed in its downtown location provided by Jane Iredale. The Great Barrington community is incredibly supportive of the market and GBFM receives sponsorship from local businesses including Guido’s, 20 Railroad, Hammertown, Cafe Adam, Allium, Prairie Whale, John Andrews, Berkshire Property Agents and One Mercantile.

Markristo Farm in Hillsdale, N.Y., is a regular vendor at the Great Barringotn Farmers’ Market.

In addition to the beautiful local products, GBFM also hosts community events, which include a children’s day complete with wagon rides, jester, crafts and face painting. It also offers space to community organizations looking to engage with customers and share information about their organizations. These organizations range from VIM Berkshires to the Berkshire Diaper Project, the Rotary Club, Berkshire International Film Festival, 350MA, Monument Mountain Regional High School’s Fall Festival of Shakespeare group and many more.

GBFM welcomes children and families to special events including the June 16 “Kids at the Market Day” as well as “Market Trick-or-Treat” Oct. 27, where vendors hand out treats from carrots to temporary tattoos. This year, GBFM will be adding cooking demos, providing community health screenings, expanding its arts events, having weekly children’s activities, increasing seating for customers and hosting a variety of community events. GBFM hopes to see you at the 2018 Great Barrington Farmers’ Market!

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