Category Archives: Belmont Farmers’ Market

Today’s harvest, last year’s Pomona purchase

Our Pomona Project helps people get inexpensive plants that bear fruit (or tubers or other edible delights).

Here are some strawberries that a customer planted last year and harvested today. Watch for Pomona sales in the winter for next year’s harvest.

Today's harvest, last year's Pomona Project purchase

Today’s harvest, last year’s Pomona Project purchase

And don’t forget that the Belmont Farmers’ Market opens next week: June 11, 2015.

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Planning the 10th Farmers’ Market season

January is when we start thinking about the next Farmers’ Market season. It doesn’t start until June, but there’s a lot to figure out.We’ve already heard from some vendors who are interested in participating.

The Belmont Food Collaborative has many other activities, some of which run in the winter (like classes) and some in the summer (Community Growing). And don’t forget about the Pomona Project: we sell edible landscaping plants at wholesale prices.

Can you help with the Market, or other activities? We’re always looking for performers, vendors and (of course) volunteers.

And shoppers, too. Look for news about the start of the 10th season.

Vacation Garden Campers Visit Farmer’s Market

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Last time you were at the market did you interview a farmer? Or find a fruit or vegetable that you’ve never seen at the grocery store? These kids did, as part of an interactive scavenger hunt through Watertown-based Vacation Garden School at the Church of the Good Shepard. The camp is now in its third year, and has visited the Belmont Farmer’s Market each summer. 

The 29 campers are outside most of the day, says Reverend and camp director Amy McCreath, and activities focus on appreciating the wonders of nature in the world around them. The kids are from Watertown, Belmont, and Waltham and range from three-and-a-half to eleven years of age. Each day the older kids, called “Junior Counselors”, take a field trip to places like The Mt. Auburn Cemetery or The Charles River. 

At the Farmer’s Market the campers were split into groups to explore. Each group interviewed a farmer, asking questions like “What insects help/hurt your plants?” or “Why should people buy food from you rather than Walmart or Shaws?”. They were also given some money to pick out a new and interesting food to share with the rest of the group. 

McCreath, whose daughters participate in the camp, describes the annual trip as “a highlight”, where the campers have the chance to try new foods and learn about the sources of what they eat. “I love seeing kids dancing around, reporting on ‘how awesome’ fennel or raw corn or Japanese turnips are!” 

Vacation Garden Campers Visit Farmer’s Market

IMG_4803

Last time you were at the market did you interview a farmer? Or find a fruit or vegetable that you’ve never seen at the grocery store? These kids did, as part of an interactive scavenger hunt through Watertown-based Vacation Garden School at the Church of the Good Shepard. The camp is now in its third year, and has visited the Belmont Farmer’s Market each summer. 

The 29 campers are outside most of the day, says Reverend and camp director Amy McCreath, and activities focus on appreciating the wonders of nature in the world around them. The kids are from Watertown, Belmont, and Waltham and range from three-and-a-half to eleven years of age. Each day the older kids, called “Junior Counselors”, take a field trip to places like The Mt. Auburn Cemetery or The Charles River. 

At the Farmer’s Market the campers were split into groups to explore. Each group interviewed a farmer, asking questions like “What insects help/hurt your plants?” or “Why should people buy food from you rather than Walmart or Shaws?”. They were also given some money to pick out a new and interesting food to share with the rest of the group. 

McCreath, whose daughters participate in the camp, describes the annual trip as “a highlight”, where the campers have the chance to try new foods and learn about the sources of what they eat. “I love seeing kids dancing around, reporting on ‘how awesome’ fennel or raw corn or Japanese turnips are!” 

Meet the Market: Olivia Cronin, Intern Extraordinaire

Olivia Cronin

Olivia Cronin joined the Belmont Food Collaborative (BFC) as an intern in 2013. While you may see her at the Market, you’re more likely to find her working on her many other projects, like raising produce for the Belmont Food Pantry through Community Growing or working on our blog.

In addition to her work with the BFC, she has started a club at Belmont High School that focuses on food issues. A rising senior, she also rows with the Arlington-Belmont Crew Team and plays bassoon at the high school and with an outside orchestra.

Why did you start working with the Market/Food Collaborative?
Last year I was looking for summer opportunities and saw that the Market/Food Collaborative was looking for interns. I’d never been involved with the Market before and had actually only been a few times. The focus of the position has a lot of flexibility, so it gives potential to pursue whatever areas interest you the most. There is a lot more that goes on besides the Market, and I wanted to have the chance to be involved in more community projects, especially ones that give you the chance to be outdoors.

What projects are you working on this year?
This year I’m helping with the Community Growing project that raises produce for the Belmont Food Pantry. Over this past year, with the BFC, I helped to start a similar garden at Belmont High School (BHS) and will be working on maintaining and organizing this project. I will also continue to post on the BFC’s blog with updates on the garden and its progress.

Is there anything you’re working on with us that you enjoy most?
I really enjoy working on the garden, especially delivering the produce we’ve raised to the Food Pantry. This is very rewarding and emphasizes the idea of knowing where your food comes from.

Can you tell me a bit about the club you started at the high school?
The club meets every 1-2 weeks and has been primarily focused on starting up the garden, but has done other projects throughout the year. This winter we organized the first “Winter Food Drive Competition” at BHS, collecting food items for the Belmont Food Pantry. Each grade competed for a prize of a dessert party, which was prepared by club members.

A big project this spring was “Global Awareness Week,” which was headed by the leaders of four high school clubs that are focused on global issues. This event was another first for BHS. Throughout the week presenters spoke about a wide variety of globally centered topics and teachers were able to sign up their classes for presentations throughout the day. The week ended with a “Hunger Banquet,” an interactive simulation intended to represent the global struggle for food security. Guests were randomly placed into one of three socioeconomic classes, where the distribution of people and food matched the situation around the world. We are already planning for next year, but are hoping to expand the event to include more of the community.

Meet the Market: Olivia Cronin, Intern Extraordinaire

Olivia Cronin

Olivia Cronin joined the Belmont Food Collaborative (BFC) as an intern in 2013. While you may see her at the Market, you’re more likely to find her working on her many other projects, like raising produce for the Belmont Food Pantry through Community Growing or working on our blog.

In addition to her work with the BFC, she has started a club at Belmont High School that focuses on food issues. A rising senior, she also rows with the Arlington-Belmont Crew Team and plays bassoon at the high school and with an outside orchestra.

Why did you start working with the Market/Food Collaborative?
Last year I was looking for summer opportunities and saw that the Market/Food Collaborative was looking for interns. I’d never been involved with the Market before and had actually only been a few times. The focus of the position has a lot of flexibility, so it gives potential to pursue whatever areas interest you the most. There is a lot more that goes on besides the Market, and I wanted to have the chance to be involved in more community projects, especially ones that give you the chance to be outdoors.

What projects are you working on this year?
This year I’m helping with the Community Growing project that raises produce for the Belmont Food Pantry. Over this past year, with the BFC, I helped to start a similar garden at Belmont High School (BHS) and will be working on maintaining and organizing this project. I will also continue to post on the BFC’s blog with updates on the garden and its progress.

Is there anything you’re working on with us that you enjoy most?
I really enjoy working on the garden, especially delivering the produce we’ve raised to the Food Pantry. This is very rewarding and emphasizes the idea of knowing where your food comes from.

Can you tell me a bit about the club you started at the high school?
The club meets every 1-2 weeks and has been primarily focused on starting up the garden, but has done other projects throughout the year. This winter we organized the first “Winter Food Drive Competition” at BHS, collecting food items for the Belmont Food Pantry. Each grade competed for a prize of a dessert party, which was prepared by club members.

A big project this spring was “Global Awareness Week,” which was headed by the leaders of four high school clubs that are focused on global issues. This event was another first for BHS. Throughout the week presenters spoke about a wide variety of globally centered topics and teachers were able to sign up their classes for presentations throughout the day. The week ended with a “Hunger Banquet,” an interactive simulation intended to represent the global struggle for food security. Guests were randomly placed into one of three socioeconomic classes, where the distribution of people and food matched the situation around the world. We are already planning for next year, but are hoping to expand the event to include more of the community.

95,000 lbs of food — how big a pile would that make?

From the Feb/March Farm and Market Report of the Mass Dept of Agricultural Resources, a note by a group that we work with:

Boston Area Gleaners would like to thank all of the farmers who donated their produce during the 2013 growing season! We were able to glean over 95,000 pounds of food for delivery to 20 different hunger relief agencies in the Greater Boston area.
continue reading

Answers to Market shopper questions, part 1

We distributed a survey at the end of the 2013 season. Thanks to all of you who filled it out.

Here are some of the comments that we got, along with our responses. We hope it’s a good look into how we run the Market. The next blog post has more answers and comments.

comments about the Market

  • “Wonderful selection of fresh produce and other products.”
  • Favorite things about the Market include “fresh stuff, local vendors, running into people I know.”
  • “I like the variety, but also the consistency of vendors.”
  • “Almost always see friends, enjoy talking to vendors.  Nice place for connecting with other Belmontians.”

Market sceneshopper questions and responses

“The Market looked more sparse this year.”
At the beginning of the season, we have fewer vendors because there’s not much produce to sell yet. Later on, we do have all of the spots filled. But, sometimes a vendor can’t make it. We try to fill that space with a vendor who wants to join the Market (as a trial of sorts), or with a vendor who comes occasionally. We can’t always book them at the last minute, but we try.

More vendors sold out and closed early.”
It’s hard for vendors to predict how many customers they will have, so they occasionally sell out before the end of the market.

“Missing vendors from years past.”
“We lost a couple of vendors this year, which was too bad.”

We miss some of our previous vendors, too. Sometimes they have schedule conflicts, and sometimes their business plans change. We’re always excited about bringing new vendors to the Market and think that you’ll like the new vendors, too, once you get to know them.

“What happened to Sergi Farms?”
They have closed, but Belmont Acres Farm took over the lease. The Ogilby family still owns the land, and Edible Boston ran a story about its history.

“Almost no one takes credit cards, and the ones that do, service is spotty”
Each season, more vendors take credit cards. Their equipment uses the same signals that your cell phone does, and unfortunately, the service in Belmont Center isn’t very good.

“I am missing Siraco the knife sharpeners, an essential service!”
Siraco came twice during 2013, but their truck is parked just outside the main Market area. We’ll try to publicize them more, both before and during their visits. We’ll look into more visits, too.

“I wish there were more organic produce and products.”
We’ll keep this in mind as we plan the 2014 Market. We do try to have a balance of growing types: organic, integrated pest management, transitional and traditional. Here’s an article from North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on some of those farming methods.

“I’d like a little more variety, and perhaps some arts/crafts stuff”
“Good variety of fruit/vegetable vendors.”

“I wish we had more vendors.”

“I wish the Market were bigger”
The Market Committee works hard to find a good variety of vendors, including prepared and raw items in many categories. We have new vendors every year, and new categories many years (like microgreens and ice pops in 2013, and tea and spices in 2012). That selection process starts in the winter, and goes right until the Market opens in June. We know that we can’t please everyone, but we try to fill different categories and offer what our shoppers want.

In 2013, we rearranged the Market space so we could fit a few more vendors in the middle. We’ll try it again in 2014.

Many other markets are much bigger than ours. We like the fact that we’re located in Belmont Center and we can bring more shoppers to the Center to visit the merchants there. But the space is limited. We don’t have enough room to have crafts and enough food vendors to support our mission:

Our mission: To provide members of the community a place to purchase fresh, local produce and goods directly from farmers and producers in a congenial atmosphere; to provide farmers and producers a direct market for their produce and goods; to support local agriculture and producers; to educate our community about eating healthfully; to educate residents about maintaining a healthy environment and the importance of sustainable agriculture; and to provide a social experience that helps build community and enhances the quality of life in Belmont.”

Read more about the Belmont Farmers’ Market and about the Belmont Food Collaborative, its parent organization.

Food donations in 2013: Financial donations

Recent posts show how the Belmont Food Collaborative (BFC) works with other groups as part of our Food Assistance program. We also make financial donations to help those in need.

Please help us continue programs like these. Make a tax-deductible donation to the Belmont Food Collaborative.

  • SNAP matching. The Belmont Farmers’ Market matches SNAP benefits (formerly food stamps), up to $25 per shopper per Market day. In 2013, we matched $1898 in SNAP benefits, helping many families take fresh nutritious produce and other local products home to their families.
  • Belmont Food Pantry. BFC donated $1000 to help the Pantry support those in need, right here in Belmont.
  • Belmont Area Gleaners. We gave $935 to this group: $450 as a donation, and $485 to support their deliveries to the Belmont Food Pantry. They glean produce from farmers’ fields that would otherwise go to waste.

Food donations in 2013: Boston Area Gleaners

The Belmont Food Collaborative supports Boston Area Gleaners as part of our Food Assistance program. They harvest left-over produce from farm fields and deliver it to food pantries and shelters.

Gleaning kale in Lincoln

Gleaning kale in Lincoln (including one of our BFC Directors)

They delivered 2,765 pounds of food in 79 cases this year to Belmont Food Pantry.

Overall, here is what they did in 2013:

  • 72,429.75 pounds harvested (as of Dec 12, 2013, with more to come!)
  • 2,155 total bushels
  • 33.6 avg. pounds/bushel
  • 805 avg. pounds/trip
  • 40 different crop types (not including varieties of crops, eg types of tomatoes, etc)
  • 26 different farms have donated
  • 16 different pantries/hunger relief organizations have received food
  • 322 total volunteer attendance
  • 146 unique volunteers
  • 5.6 avg volunteers/trip

The most produce has been donated to Food for Free, Greater Boston Food Bank, and Jewish Family and Children’s Service in Waltham; other top recipients include Salvation Army of Waltham, Medford Community Cupboard, Belmont Food Pantry, Helping Hand Food Pantry of Cambridge, Lexington Food Pantry, Arlington Food Pantry (not in any order).

Top 5 farms, donated by bushels: The Food Project (Lincoln, 275) Siena Farms (Sudbury, 260), Kimball Fruit Farm (Pepperell, 256), Dick’s Market Garden (Lunenburg, 204), Waltham Fields Community Farm (171).

Top 5 farms donated by weight: Kimball Fruit Farm (9,920), Dick’s Market Garden (8,765), The Food Project (8,398), Gore Place (Waltham, 6,325), Connemara House Farm (Topsfield, 6,325).

Names in italics are agencies that BFC works with, or farms that participate in our Farmers’ Market.