MADISON — The Madison Farmer’s Market had such a successful trial run last fall that it will open for a full season on Sunday.
The market also will be the site of a community supported agriculture program, which will run for 12 weeks. Organizers hope to attract additional vendors to the CSA.
“I was hoping last year would give us a running start. I think it’s just a matter of time and commitment to be successful,” said market manager Samantha Burns, an Anson farmer and beekeeper who founded the Madison Farmer’s Market in 2013. It operated for four weeks last fall.
The market, which will be held every Sunday at the new Main Street Park, is one of a growing number of new farmers markets around the country. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of farmers markets in the country has more than quadrupled since 1994, with the most recent data listing 8,144 markets in 2013. There are 139 markets in Maine.
Burns’ family farm and apiary, Runamuk Acres, which recently underwent a 50-acre expansion, is one of what she hopes will be a growing number of vendors at the market.
Community-supported agriculture, an alternative method of selling produce that connects the farmer directly with the consumer, also will take place for the first time this year. Shoppers can pick up vegetables, fruit and honey from Burns at the market after paying in advance for a share of the farm’s harvest.
Burns hopes Runamuk also can launch a CSA for pastured pork this spring.
Having a farmers market is a good way to get the CSA running, Burns said.
“It allows us to direct-market our products, create relationships with local people and cuts out the middle man so can sell our products without extra fees,” she said.
The Madison Farmer’s Market joins a small number of Somerset County farmers markets that include Fairfield, Pittsfield and Skowhegan. The county is home to more than 500 farms, according to the Maine Farm Bureau.
“Somerset County could definitely have more farmers markets. Obviously, there needs to be interest on the part of those that would be selling, and sometimes it’s a question of how a market fits into the way farms are currently marketing themselves in the area,” said Colleen Hanlon-Smith, executive director of the Maine Federation of Farmer’s Markets.
Burns acknowledges that there have been some challenges to starting and running the market — including attracting other vendors and her own struggles as a farmer getting through this year’s long, harsh winter — but she is confident the market can succeed.
“We’re promoting local foods to people who might otherwise not bother shopping with local farmers. At the same time, it’s an opportunity for beginning farmers and to promote the growth of agriculture and business here in Madison,” she said.
The Madison Farmer’s Market is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays at 189 Main St. in Madison.
Rachel Ohm — 612-2368 firstname.lastname@example.org