Our Food Production & Field Experience class had the opportunity to attend the first Winter Farmers Market of the season at Wentworth Greenhouses. Cece Hay sat down with Kelsey MacDonald from Heron Pond Farm for a little question and answer session.
Cece: It’s my first time coming to this winter’s farmers market, is it always this busy?
Kelsey: The farmer’s market on the Saturday before Thanksgiving is historically one of the busiest of the year. Usually about 2,300 people come to market on these days! In general, market is usually quite busy in the beginning 2-3 hours and is quieter in the last 1-2 hours, but some things may be sold out towards the end.
Cece: How long have you been a vendor here?
Kelsey: Heron Pond Farm has been doing farmer’s markets since 1999. I, personally have worked for the farm since 2013 and have been doing markets since about 2014. Seacoast Eat Local, who hosts the Winter Farmer’s Markets, hosted the first winter season of markets alternating locations at Exeter High School and Wentworth Greenhouses during the 2009-2010 season.
Cece: What crop do you sell the most of?
Kelsey: It’s hard to say one answer for the whole season because what we have changes. Right now, I’d have to say brussel sprouts. We just picked them from the field yesterday. They are a fall season specialty and many customers have not seen them on the stalks, so they are fun and exciting. I would also say carrots and potatoes are a top seller. Right now, we have 3 types of carrots: red, yellow and orange and 7 types of potatoes: nicola, reds, golds, whites, russets, adirondack reds and adirondack blues. Greens are also popular later in the winter.
Cece: Do you have any side projects?
Kelsey: In addition to working full time at Heron Pond Farm, I started working part time for NH Gleans as one of the 8 gleaning coordinators in NH. Gleaning is gathering leftover fruits and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste and donate them. Through this position, I have been able to gather leftovers from farmer’s markets, farm stands and farms by either picking up the products after they have been on display and now have a bruise or are slightly wilted and have lost their market value but still provide nutrition. Additionally, I have done field harvest gleans when growers have excess, it may be slightly too big or too small to sell. This food collected is donated to various food pantries and soup kitchens in the Seacoast Area.
Cece: I see a lot of other vendors selling the same types of veggies…What sets your produce apart from others?
Kelsey: Heron Pond Farm has been farming for 20 years, so over time, many customers have gotten to know us, our products and practices. Additionally, we have a 4 season farm, so customers can consistently find us at markets year round and in multiple locations with a colorful display, rather just in the summer.
Cece: What are some of difficult things about working at the farmer’s markets?
Kelsey: In the summer, I get up by 4 am but I get to see the sunrise! Also, It is hard to know if it is going to be busy or slow, which can make it hard to plan what to bring. We take inventory of what went to market and came home from market to help with planning for the next week. But, sometimes in the winter it may snow or pour in the summer, reducing customer flow. Depending of the holiday, there may be more or less customers.
Cece: What would you like the college population to know about farmer’s markets and buying local?
Kelsey: There is a farmer’s market right in Durham from June-October and a new winter market staring December 7th in the MUB! There may seem to be a higher unit price for locally produced items from the farmer’s market, but they are often made by hand, much more flavorful, and contain many more nutrients. It’s more bang for your buck! You are also supporting a small local business and your neighbors. You are also more likely to create less waste by buying products with less packaging.
If you would like to volunteer at winter farmer’s markets, contact Seacoast Eat Local on Facebook page or signup for the emails on their website seacoasteatlocal.org
If you would like to volunteer for a field harvest glean, keep your eye on Seacoast Eat Local’s postings and emails or the calendar at nhgleans.org under the gleans tab on the top.