TO MARKET, TO MARKET: Farmers market season opens this week

Springbrook Farm laid out a colorful spread at the Ashmont Farmers’ Market last July. Ashmont Farmers’ Market photo

Ashmont site kicks off the season this week

Ready your wallets and your shopping baskets, Dorchester – the farmers’ market season is upon us! A time of fresh food, live music, and neighbors galore, the season looks better than ever this year, with at least seven markets open weekly in Dorchester and Mattapan.

This Friday (June 29), the hugely popular Ashmont Farmers’ Market on the Plaza at 1900 Dorchester Ave., which last year served up to 600 people a week, will open with a ceremonial ribbon cutting at 4 p.m. and feature vendors such as The Ancient Bakers, Del Sur, the Dorchester Food Co-Op, and the Boston Police Department’s Operation Hoodsie Cup, which delivers free ice cream to kids. Muhammed Seven, a Dorchester musician with a three-piece band, will be playing at the site on Friday.

The market will be open from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Friday until October 19. Not including entertainment acts, there will be a total of 10 to 12 vendors on site each week, of which five will be returning regularly. Sellers will include Springbrook Farm, Sibling Organic Farm, Fornax Bread Company, City Compost, and Evergreen Delivery (better referred to by their partner, Red’s Best Fish Co.). Del Sur will have freshly prepared empanadas every other week; The Ancient Bakers and Bobby Mac’s Knife Sharpening will both be there once a month. While things vary on a vendor-specific basis, there will be vendors present who accept HIP, SNAP/EBT, WIC, and SFMNP in addition to cash and cards.

The Ashmont market will also be promoting community wellness: from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. through the summer months, free prepared food will be available for those under 18 as a part of Boston’s Summer Eats program, says Josh Wilson, communication and program manager of Greater Ashmont Main Street.

In addition, free yoga and the occasional free chair massage will be in Peabody Square West between from 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. from June 29 through July 20, in partnership with Four Corners Yoga. There will also be a live band every week, excluding one week per month when Dot Art will be hosting arts and craft activities with kids. This summer marks the market’s tenth season in this location. You can access a weekly schedule on the market’s Facebook page or at http://tinyurl.com/afmcal.

On July 14, two weeks after the Ashmont launch, farmers’ markets will open for the season in Fields’ Corner, Codman Square Park, and Mattapan. The one in Fields Corner, located in the parking lot of the Fields Corner Shopping Center at the intersection of Dorchester Avenue and Park Street, will be open every Saturday until October 21 from 9 a.m. to noon. Three to four vendors will be there every week, such as Berberian Farm from Northborough, Song Vang Yang Farm from Fitchburg, and Lang Her from Brockton.

As for events, “there’s a lot of flexibility,” said Joe Ureneck, one of the original founders and the market’s current manager. “It’s on an ad hoc basis, so it sort of happens when it happens.” That said, they are looking to have a bike repair table and some acts. Founded in 1978, the Fields Corner operation claims to be the oldest farmers’ market in Boston.

Codman Square Park will be having its market open on Saturdays between 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. from July 14 through September 29. The operators will be reviving their “Social Saturdays” of last year, featuring six vendors and a different theme each week. “Social Saturdays allows the market to be more inclusive,” says Cynthia Loesch, who founded it in 2008. “Every week is a different theme with a different sponsor, highlighting the amazing things going on in Codman Square with the different organizations that are there.”

The first week, the market will work with Codman Square Health Center and focus on substance abuse prevention; the following week, it will be on solar energy with Second Church and Co-Op Power.

The Mattapan Farmers’ Market will be in a new location for its 12th year – the Municipal City Parking Lot #14, on the corner of Cummins Highway and Fairway Street across the street from Burger King on Cummins Highway. Last year, four funerals and a wedding made vending at The Church of the Holy Spirit difficult.

The market is gearing up for another great season, with opening day promising soul-Latin-jazz music by Cornell Coley and a WIC station giving out WIC coupons. There will be four vendors throughout the season selling fresh honey, eggs, baked goods, and produce. The market will run every Saturday until O ct. 13from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Some weeks will have a theme: August 4 will be Teen Day, held by the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition, and will provide teens with smoothies and the option of going on a bike ride or playing basketball at a nearby church. Boston Cycling Union will also make an appearance repairing bikes. August 11 will be senior day and August 25 will be Kids Day, with backpack giveaways and preparation for going back to school; September 15 will be Harvest Day.

And, finally, parents can look forward to seeing Kids Corner at the market this year. “It’s a place where children can come and do arts and crafts,” says Vickey Siggers, market manager. “We do story time and they learn about where their food comes from.”

On July 17, the DotHouse Farmers’ Market will open behind the Dorchester House Health Center’s WIC office at 1353 Dorchester Ave., and will run every Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. through Oct. 13. There will be two vendors this year, Dorchester’s ReVision House Urban Farm and the Herr Family Farm, selling a variety of Asian and American produce. They will be accepting card, cash, and farmers’ market coupons from the WIC office. The market is also hoping to have someone from the UMass Extension Nutrition Program to come and inform patients about healthy eating, the products they can buy, and some recipes they can do at home, although they have yet to confirm the dates, says Loren Ramos, the market manager.

The new Uphams Corner Farmers’ Market will open in partnership with the Uphams Corner Health Center at 559 Columbia Rd. Ending Oct. 24, the market will be operating on Wednesdays from 3 to 7 p.m. and will work with Uphams Corner Main Streets and their Up Vendors -- local entrepreneurs who sell homemade items, says Susan Kelliher, the director of marketing, promotions, and outreach at Upham’s Corner Health Center. They are still waiting to confirm other vendors.