Farmers markets in and around Dorchester are gearing up for the summer, with many of them looking to open in the next couple of weeks.
The Ashmont Farmers Market will be among the first to set up shop as it begins its ninth season on Friday on the plaza just outside Ashmont Station where it will be open from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Fridays through Oct. 13.
“We have 10 pop-up style vendors,” said Greater Ashmont Main Street executive director Jenn Cartee. “One of those is our table with community information, Main Street information, and the ability to process credit cards and sell T-shirts and stuff like that. We have live music and artistic interactives.”
Sellers will include Spring Brook Farm, Lang Her’s Asian Farm, Fornax Bread Company, and Red’s Best Fish. Cartee said that Red’s Best Fish will only be accepting pre-orders this week and may shift to a retail setup given enough interest. Spring Brook Farm, which will be at the market for its fourth year, is the largest of the vendors, Cartee said. While some are consistently on site, others rotate through the market’s 10 tents, including Bittersweet Herb Farm and Lang Her’s Asian Farm.
“There’s a lot of occasional vendors it makes more sense to have in once a month or something,” she added. In years past, Cartee said, there have been tables from neighborhood groups, including health centers, Boston Bikes, the Boston Public Library’s Bibliocycle, and the New England Aquarium. The market also features live music; the local band Waiting for Neil will be playing on Friday.
Following Greater Ashmont Main Street’s opening by a day, the Codman Square Farmers Market will open for business on Saturday in Codman Square Park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This year, the market will be introducing Social Saturdays, according to its website.
The Bowdoin Geneva Farmers Market will kick off on Thurs., June 29, running from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursdays through Oct. 26. The Urban Farming Institute of Boston is the market’s sole produce vendor, according to Healthy Dorchester coordinator Grantley Payne, who is also the market’s manager. Payne said the market is “more like a farm stand” this year, but it will still have neighborhood resources available a couple of times a month.
“Every other week, beginning July 6 through the end of August — which is Aug. 31 — the Boston Cyclists’ Union will also be at the market, doing free bike repairs,” Payne said.
Fields Corner Farmers Market does not have a date set for its official opening. However, coordinator Joe Ureneck expects it to be the second or third Saturday in July. “It’s always on Saturday,” 9 a.m. to noon, Ureneck said. “It runs through October, usually the last Saturday in October.”
Ureneck is president of the Dorchester Gardenlands Preserve, the organization that laid the groundwork for the market’s first season in 1978. It is the oldest one in Boston, according to the Fields Corner Main Street website.
Farther south, the Mattapan Square Farmers Market is preparing for its opening on July 8. Market manager Vickey Siggers said she is “tying up the last loose ends of opening day. We’ve got some pretty exciting things going on, so we’re revving up.”
The market will run every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot of the Church of the Holy Spirit at 525 River St. On opening day, vendors will accept coupons from families on the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program, Siggers said.
Additionally, the Mattapan market will partner with the YMCA of Greater Boston on opening day, Siggers said. A meal site will be set up for children under 18. Vendors will include the Urban Farming Institute of Boston, Freitas Farm from Middleborough, and Wenger’s Farm from Bellingham.
The market is one of dozens of farmers markets across the Bay State that will be participating this year in the Massachusetts’ Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), a three-year pilot initiative that will match SNAP recipients’ purchases of local produce at farmers and mobile markets, farm stands, and farm share programs. “A lot of the farmers markets will be doing it,” Siggers said. “It’s another way for people who don’t have access to a lot of fruits and vegetables to get them.”
Through HIP, households with one or two people qualify for $40 a month; three-to-five-person households, $60; and households with six or more people, $80.
Siggers said the Mattapan market will have music, games, face painting, and at least one food truck throughout the summer. “We have kids’ day coming up; we have a senior day,” she said. “It’s going to be a good year. The farmers are excellent. I love them dearly. They come and bring me great and locally grown produce.”