Farmers Market Committee Focuses on Garden

The Farmers Market Committee recently discussed the future role of the market in the community and decided to focus on the community garden behind Botelle School as its primary mission, offering children an educational opportunity for growing and learning about food.

The committee took over stewardship of the gardens last May. 

Members said they would confer with school officials to determine how they can collaborate with Botelle School and Chairman Lisa Auclair is to confer with the agriculture department at Northwestern Regional School #7 to discuss working with its students again this year.

“At our meeting, we ran through many different ideas for how we can integrate the ag department students as well as the kids that attend Botelle in growing, harvesting and selling or producing food items for sale this year,” said Auclair. “We are still very much in the development stages, but very excited about the prospects.”

Last year she set up four work parties with the ag students to prepare the community garden for planting. Two to four students joined Auclair each time, as did committee members and some neighbors, to help weed, clean out the shed, move mulch for the space between the beds, repair the beds and to replenish them with fresh soil and plantings.

Auclair said that last year the committee bought a quantity of plants from the Region 7 agriculture program, which has a large greenhouse and sells plants in the spring for reasonable rates. The Farmers Market Committee also sold some of agriculture department’s plants and flowers at the weekly farmers markets.

Each agriculture student must put in four hours of community service per quarter for credit in the FFA. A couple of the girls also volunteered during the Farmers market Kids Day event last summer, handing out popcorn, running games and assisting in selling produce grown in the garden.

Instead of weekly markets on the Town Hall grounds this summer, three pop-up markets are planned: the first at Botelle School on February 24 during Winter Weekend in Norfolk, a second in early August, during the summer version of WIN, and one at Christmas during the December Holiday Market. Locations and exact dates for the latter two have not been determined.

Twenty vendors have rented spaces for the February 24th market and the PTO will cater food. Music will be provided by Andy Styles.

The future of the Farmers Market was thrown into question last fall when, after 17 years at the helm, committee chairman Lisa Auclair announced her desire to step down. Market manager Angie Bollard also announced her retirement. In December, however, local resident Chelsea Ryll stepped forward and offered to manage the pop-ups. In turn, Auclair agreed to serve another year as chairman and Bollard joined the committee.

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