MADISON — This afternoon, Thelma Lawrence watched over a table of tomatoes, lettuce, squash and green beans.

Nearby, Shanna Brown laid out wildflowers for children to make bouquets.

The women were two of the vendors at a new farmers market in Madison. The market, which opened earlier this month and will run through mid-September, is new to Madison and is one of the first ways the town is utilizing a new park.

“I think it’s a great thing. It’s a great market because it’s centrally located and as a farmer I don’t have to travel a great distance to get here,” said Lawrence, 86, of Hawley’s Little Acre Farm in Madison.

The Madison farmers market is one of many plans for the new park, which is part of an economic development project the town has been working on for the past year at the site of the old Madison Junior High School. And while there were only four vendors at the market today, organizers say they think it has the potential to grow.

“The market offers people of Madison fresh food directly from the farmer. It will help restore a sense of community and enhance the town’s quality of life as well as benefit the local economy,” said Samantha Burns, owner of Runamuk Acres in Anson and the organizer of the new market.

According to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, there are only three farmers markets in Somerset County, located in Fairfield, Pittsfield and Skowhegan, yet as of 2007 there were 564 farms.

Today, Mary Andrews, a resident of Solon, said she felt there was a need for a farmers market in Madison and that she liked the location.

“I think its great because its the only one that is actually close with the exception of Skowhegan. I like that its on Sundays, too, because I’m around after church,” said Andrews, 70.

Burns said that with more vendors she thinks the market will be busier. Part of the reason it is being held on Sundays is to avoid competition with the much larger Skowhegan Farmers Market, which is held on Wednesdays and Saturdays and has 16 vendors, according to its website.

She said the market plans to run for six weeks this year and open for a full season in May.

Tim Curtis, the town consultant for community and economic development, said the town has tried to organize a farmer’s market in the past but was always unsuccessful because there was no good space for the market to take place.

It is just one way the new park, which doesn’t have an official name, will be utilized, he said. In the fall, the town hopes to install a new playground and they are in the process of fundraising for its construction.

Money for the playground and a black, wrought-iron fence that will surround the park, an $85,000 project, is being collected through fundraising and donations and will not use tax dollars, said Curtis. He said the town has already raised about $50,000.

An ice skating rink in the winter is a possibility and the park will also be used later this month for the Madison-Anson Days chili cookoff and a concert, said Curtis.

Construction on the Main Street project began last fall. The site is the location of the former Madison Junior High School and although the school no longer stands, an old crabapple tree dedicated to a former student still stands.

Today, if offered shade to the vendors at the new farmers market.

“We’re trying to build something closer to home. I really hope it can grow,” said Brown.

The Madison farmers market is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, through Sept. 8.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368
[email protected]