An insider's view of Farmers' Market
This is the 35th year of the West Tisbury Farmers' Market, a cooperative organization selling only fresh Island-grown product. Traditionally, it is held from the second Saturday in June through the holiday weekend in October, with additional Wednesday markets during July and August.
The first year, vendors set up their booths across the front of the Grange Hall with a few booths extended along the right side. But as the years progressed and the vendors increased, the Farmers' Market extended up and down the right side of the entire building in two lanes with a walkway between.
We have had some changes along the way. We used to have new members who joined with Island-grown products from the ocean, such as lobster rolls and smoked bluefish. But then the board of health rules became stricter, and food from the ocean was prohibited, even though it was stored in coolers and doled out individually. The fish vendors had to drop out.
In another instance there were cute little puppies shown in a large open-air cage. Some were sold, but when the others grew to an unmanageable size that vendor had to drop out also.
We take pride in our market, and this spring Debbie Koines and Linda Alley, our co-managers, attended an off-Island three-day New England Harvest Conference and Trade Show where they met with market managers from all over New England to discover new possibilities and ideas. They learned that there is a new and popular trend to have once-a-month winter farmers markets that run from November through March with available items. They also found that it is possible to include fish. These are things we'll think about doing.
But starting this weekend, we'll have vendors who include Debbie Farber, Caitlin Jones and Allan Healy, and Rebecca Miller bringing their fresh farm vegetables, herbs, salad greens, salsa, mustards and such things as pesto. I can't forget the young people who grow and raise the tasty vegetables, herbs and meat.