The Farmers Market scheduled to open in summer 2017 will be as new and as fresh as its produce.
Terri Pastori, chairman of the Derry Economic Development Advisory Committee, is part of a committee dedicated to reestablishing a market in Derry. Along with Neil and Wendy Wetherbee, Jenna Paradise, Cheryl Holbert, Jackie Brandl Henault, Liz Carver and Crispen Stanbach, she is determined to see local foods and crafts displayed, and purchased, in a new venue.
Derry’s Farmers Market was originally sponsored by the town and directed by resident Beverly Ferrante. It operated in the parking lot behind the Municipal Center. When the town discontinued support in the 2014 budget process, Ferrante and a core group of farmers decided to continue to operate independently. They set up shop on land owned by the Benson family fronting Broadway, and operated in the summers of 2014 and 2015. Ferrante left her post after summer 2015, and the market did not reopen this past summer.
Pastori said she and the committee missed the original Farmers Market, its fresh produce and baked goods and its convenient downtown location. An informal committee came together and met briefly with the Recreation Department, but finally realized, she said, “what we needed was something completely new.”
The group began meeting this past spring, named their project the Derry Homegrown Farm & Artisans Market, and planned a launch for summer of 2017. Wendy Wetherbee created a logo for the group. They also agreed to create a survey on what their town wants in a farmers market.
They’re currently working on paperwork to register with the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture and the Secretary of State’s office. “Our goal,” she said, “is to have it as a nonprofit. We are all volunteers who believe in farmers’ markets.”
“We are now looking for vendors and for volunteers,” Pastori said.
In addition to fresh produce, farm-raised beef and baked goods, the group is also looking for artisans, according to Pastori – jewelers, potters, painters.
Two of the committee members, Henault and Holbert, are also vendors, Pastori said. Henault is a grower and Holbert bakes artisan Middle Eastern breads. “They are able to give us the vendors’ perspective,” Pastori said.
The interest so far has been “phenomenal,” according to Pastori.
She’s not sure yet about the hours, noting, “We’ll see what the survey says.” Anecdotally, she’s heard that the former market’s hours of 3 to 6 p.m. didn’t work for some people. “Our sweet spot may be 3 to 7,” she said, adding that along with the hours, the location is still subject to change.
Their goal is to be “flexible, responsible and nimble” in order to meet the needs of the community, according to Pastori.
The group meets the first Sunday of each month, she said.
Pastori was an avid patron of the former market, she said. She would pick up her children, now 8 and 5, at day camp and drive by on the way home. “We tried to buy something from every vendor,” she said. “Then we’d go home, and incorporate it into dinner.”
Neal Wetherbee, also chair of the Conservation Commission, said he and his wife were originally approached by Pastori for their marketing and graphic design skills. “She knew the business I’m in,” Wetherbee said. While he often gets approached for pro bono work, this cause was different to Wetherbee, and he eventually came on board as an active member.
Wetherbee, also a former Town Councilor, remembers the early days of the former market. “There were tons of people, tons of vendors,” he recalled. “It was a real social thing.
“I want to get us back to that level,” Wetherbee said.
But he agreed with the group’s decision not to try anything this past summer. “We don’t want to force something and do it halfway,” Wetherbee said. “Let’s take our time, map it out, see what other communities are doing.”
As a person who knows town government, he’s lending those skills in addition to marketing and design. “When they say, ‘We need to contact the Health Department,’ I’m the one who says, ‘Let me handle that,’” he said.
“I think we can make something happen,” Wetherbee summed it up.
The Web site, also created by the Wetherbees, is www.derryhomegrown.org. It offers access to the survey, Pastori said. The group also has a Facebook page, she said.