Farmers Market Plans Future Without Town Sponsorship

The Derry Farmers Market will continue beyond this year, but in a new location and without town sponsorship. “We are going to continue the Farmers Market, just not under the auspices of the Town of Derry,” market director Beverly Ferrante said as she welcomed customers to the July 3 market. “We have had a couple of other spots offered to us.”

Ferrante said she couldn’t disclose the potential locations yet. The market was in danger of closing after the Town Council voted to cut its funding from $20,000 to $5,000, with the argument that the town was losing money with a market that only brought in $10,000 of profit. But Ferrante sees a demand for the event, and while the details are still being worked out, she is confident it will continue.

Her vendors are “troupers,” she said, noting that they showed up and set up even during the torrential downpour on June 26. A couple of vendors even sold out, she said. Despite a controversial start to the season, Ferrante has even recruited new vendors. She has two new bakers, Melissa Molasses and Nomad Bakery, and a new soap vendor, Nutfield Soapworks, which was at the winter market but is new to the summer one. She has 29 vendors on the books, with 14 showing up on July 3.

In addition to the bakers and crafts she has several traditional farmers. Kittredge Farms will be coming in next week, she said. And she has several produce vendors, including Kittredge, Fresh Start and Country Dreams, and vendors who offer grass-fed beef, lamb and chickens.

Susan Bengston has operated Nutfield Soapworks for three years, and tested the farmers market waters last year in Nashua. She found she liked that kind of venue, and joined Ferrante’s winter market at Upper Village Hall. She likes the markets better than craft shows, she said, noting that they attract “a different breed of customer.”

Cheryl Holbert, owner of Nomad Bakery, baked artisanal breads for herself, family and friends for years. Farmers markets are “the simplest way to promote my product without getting into huge debt,” she observed. She’s a “huge supporter” of farmers markets and eating local, noting, “It’s the best way to get our food.”

Vikki Sciuto, owner of Sweet Ideas, another bakery, said the markets are a way to get her name out “to people we wouldn’t be able to reach any other way.” One of those was Eunie Guyre of Derry, who scooped up two caramel brownies. “These are to die for,” Guyre said, “and I waited two weeks for them. Now I’ll go buy a tomato to balance it out.”

Drema and Patrick Cady hawked the tomatoes, and lettuce, cucumbers, spinach and squash, from their Country Dreams, a traditional farmstand. They’ve been selling vegetables for 22 years, Drema said, and focus on farmers markets and CSAs (community-supported agriculture).

She likes the interaction at the markets, Drema said, noting, “You can bring something different in, and tell people how to cook it.” Customer Christine Fulton proved Drema’s point as she picked up a small spherical vegetable. “What is this?” she asked.

“That’s an 8-ball zucchini,” Drema said. “You can take the top off, stuff it like a pepper.”
Fulton comes to the market every week, she said. “I like the atmosphere, plus you get to try new things,” she said as she passed two squash to Drema for bagging.

This year’s market also features local honey, seafood and crafts. Woodworker Melissa DeMartino is in her third year with the market. She is at the Laconia market once a month, and “a lot of craft fairs.”
She wasn’t sure she’d be moving with Ferrante, noting, “it depends on the location. We’ll see what happens.”

She likes seeing families come to the market, DeMartino said. “It’s a generational thing.”
“It’s great camaraderie,” Ferrante said. “You see the smiles on the faces – it’s a positive thing, whether we have six vendors or 36 vendors.” The market continues through the summer on Wednesdays from 3 to 7 p.m. in the parking lot at 14 Manning St.