Machias market wants new farmers

Posted March 17, 2009, at 8:27 p.m.

MACHIAS, Maine — After a drawn-out winter, home-grown produce and fresh eggs will look mighty good this summer.

With this in mind, members of the Machias Valley Farmers Market are looking for farmers to join their organization.

The market was organized in 1998 by the Washington County Soil and Water Conservation District with a small group of farmers. Since then, it has become a familiar summer site on the town’s dike across from Helen’s Restaurant.

Town Manager Betsy Fitzgerald said Tuesday that even before the formal market was set up, farmers sold their wares on the dikes as far back as the 1960s and probably earlier.

“I hate to go back this far, but I remember even as a kid I can remember during the summer there would be someone sitting there with vegetables or something, and I don’t think it was a formal thing,” Fitzgerald said.

In the 1980s an area was set up on the dike exclusively for the market.

“We tend to be slightly territorial about it. In other words, [if] Joe Shmoe [comes] with his antiques, we will push him down the way [on the dike],” the town manager said.

Market organizer Carol Varin of Beddington said Tuesday that the market is looking for new people. “It has been a very small market with an excellent location,” she said. She said they have about four vendors each summer.

But last year, one of the market’s major producers, Frank Anthony of Roque Bluffs, died, leaving a big hole. “With the loss of Frank Anthony we are kind of at a turning point where we really need some more vegetable growers, but we are pretty open to most everything,” she said. The “everything” includes fruits, eggs, baked goods and all kinds of value-added farm products.

The market has three new producers this year, but more are needed.

And you don’t have to be an organic farmer to be a part of it. “It is open to anybody,” Varin said.

The farmers hope to have the market up and running in May.

In addition, farmers market managers, vendors and farmers are invited to attend the Down East Business Alliance Maine Farmers’ Market Convention, a three-day training and networking event on Schoodic Point in Winter Harbor from Friday, March 20, to Sunday, March 22. The event is designed to help farmers market vendors learn how to better plan, organize and promote their markets for the 2009 selling season, the group’s Web site said.

For information on the convention, go to the Washington Hancock Community Agency Web site at www.whcacap.org.

Anyone who wants to participate in the Machias farmers market should call Varin at 638-2664 or e-mail her at rcvarin@rivah.net.

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