Derry Farmers Market Back As a Fixture Downtown

Michael Powers of Ann Arbor, Mich., drove an hour for bread.

Powers, whose parents live in Danvers, Mass., developed a taste for Cheryl Holbert’s old-world bread on visits home. “Whenever I visit them, I trek up to Bedford for a few loaves,” he said. When he heard Holbert was selling her wares at the Derry Farmers Market, he swung over to Derry instead for his annual Nomad Bakery fix.

The white tents were out and the background music playing as the Market entered its second season at the park in front of Derry Feed and Supply. This year’s stalls offer a little bit of everything, from Crayola-bright produce to makeovers.

Some came from other parts of Derry, some wandered in from downtown businesses, but Powers took the prize for longest commute. “I live in a college town and there’s good bread there, but nothing like Cheryl’s,” he said. “And she remembers me, even though I only show up once a year.”

There were two produce stands, Patrick and Dreama Cady’s Sweet Dreams Farm and the Fresh Start Farm, an immigrant and refugee collaborative. Brightly-colored produce overflowed from baskets and trays, even this early in the year.

The Cady stand even had a few early tomatoes, despite a poor growing season. “It’s been slow because of the cold,” Dreama Cady said. “But now we’re getting some rain.”

She had cherries, strawberries, summer squash and deep green lettuce – and willing customers.

The couple has been at the Derry market ever since it started and Dreama said though they attend three other markets and even have a produce stand inside St. Joseph’s Hospital in Nashua, she will continue to come to Derry. “I like the friendliness of the customers,” she said. “They like to know how to grow things, and they like to know where their food comes from.”

Meadowview Farm in Gilmanton also offered strawberries, along with maple syrup and their own eggs, beef and lamb.

Katie Brown staffed a stand for her sister-in-law, Debbie Duckworth of Epping, who makes zucchini relish, pickles, sweet jams and jellies and “hot” jellies. The colors gleamed through the sealed glass jars. Brown had done the first market of the season, June 17, and said, “It’s going well. It’s a little slow, but it always starts slow.”

Jeff Travers worked the booth for Northwood Naturals, owned by Kay and David Hoyt. The “naturals” are chemical-free cosmetics and personal care products and Travers said this year’s market was going well.

“This is a great market,” he said of Derry. While Northwood Naturals are “all over the place,” in other farmers markets, mom-and-pop stores and even Whole Foods, they like Derry because of the consistency of the patrons and the work of Director Beverly Ferrante.

“The promoter does a wonderful job,” Travers said.

Customers could get a makeover from the inside, with fresh and healthy food, or from the outside. Sharon Jensen, an administrative assistant at the Derry Municipal Center, handed out fliers on her new business, Embrace Your Wardrobe. Jensen, who has worked for the town for 30 years, is looking ahead to her retirement career and will advise people on putting their best foot – or face – forward.

Embrace Your Wardrobe is an extension of the Color Me Beautiful program and tells clients what jewelry, makeup, colors and even watches suit their face and body type.

“This is what I want to do when I ‘grow up,’” Jensen said as she handed out fliers for an upcoming Adult Education course.

And Rob Leleszi, owner of Rockingham Ale, sold his original brews, including Bacon Imperial Stout and Blond Melon. “I’ve been home-brewing for eight years, interned for 2 1/2 years, and opened in February,” Leleszi.

Last week was the first time he’d done the Derry market, Leleszi said, and it was going well.

“It’s local, and that’s a big factor for me,” he said.

It’s also a big factor for Cheryl Holbert, she said between fielding customers’ questions. “This is my home town, and I love the idea of a ‘community baker.’ Early communities each had a baker, that was their sustenance,” she said. “I’m trying to use more local grains, to increase the interdependency.”

And as she looked around the park, to people perusing produce or chatting about local ale, Holbert added, “It’s a different way to live.”

The market is open every Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m.