South Hadley Farmers Market canceled for season

  • Tammy Sapowsky finishes setting up her farmstand at the South Hadley Farmers Market, August 2, 2018. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/16/2019 11:04:41 PM
Modified: 5/16/2019 11:04:30 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — After an early closure last year, board members behind the South Hadley Farmers Market have decided to put the market on hiatus this season, citing a small administrative board.

“It was primarily that we felt we didn’t have enough people to help make the market exactly what we wanted it to be,” said board member Mary Leal. “We just needed more hands. We need more hands.”

The board, which started with seven members, is now down to four members and short a market manager, Leal said. 

“We are committed to trying to make it work,” Leal said, “but the general feeling was that we didn’t want to put forward a very small, unsatisfactory market for the community.”

Similar issues have hampered the market in the past. In 2017, the board announced that the market was in desperate need of new members in order to continue. Several responded to the board’s plea for help, keeping the market afloat for the season. But in 2018, the market was called off halfway through its ninth season due to a low amount of vendors — an average of four or five, Leal said, while 10 to 12 would be ideal — and the market manager’s resignation.

A high volume of farmers markets and other locally-sourced food options in the area has also placed a strain on the South Hadley Farmers Market, Leal said, noting that Northampton and Amherst run “thriving” markets. Despite these other options, Leal said that South Hadley has space for its own farmers market. 

“Every town, every community has its own personality,” she said. 

“The thing about the South Hadley market is it’s likely never going to be as big as Northampton or Amherst,” Leal said. “But that also means we can provide a venue for new vendors, smaller vendors to cut their teeth … Start small, and then grow big.”

The board has considered reaching out to other local markets for a partnership, Leal said, but added that the idea presents “another level of complication that we need time to investigate further.”

Leal remains optimistic about the market’s future, viewing this year’s hiatus as a call for help that she believes the public will answer. 

“I am pretty convinced (residents) are going to miss it this year … and see it as an opportunity to help out and turn this into a market that we want to see in town,” Leal said. 

“We definitely want to come back really strong,” she said, “but we need supporters to do that.”

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com. 


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