WATERVILLE — Despite the gloomy, rainy weather Thursday, customers came out to buy vegetable seedlings and fresh cheese at the Downtown Waterville Farmers’ Market at Castonguay Square on the first day at its summer location.

Hanne Tierney, of Cornerstone Farm, a founding member and current chairwoman of the market, said she was excited to be back selling her vegetable and herb seedlings to the community.

“We have a great customer base here and we’re friends with the customers. We see them each week,” Tierney said.

It’s the second year that the market has set up shop on Common Street after being pushed from its former Main Street location by construction of a new Colby College residence hall. Tierney said next year’s location — once the construction is finished — is still to be determined, but she will listen to customers to see where they want the market.

“You need to try some bread,” Karl Rau, owner and operator of the Good Bread bakery, said to pedestrians who stopped at his table to peruse the mounds of fresh cinnamon swirl and cheddar onion leaves, soft pretzels, cinnamon rolls and stacks of molasses spice, lemon dream and chocolate fudge cookies.

“This is 100 percent rye with apple cider,” Rau said as he cut small scraps off the dark brown loaf and handed the loaf to customers. “It really shouldn’t be cut until tomorrow; it’s still a bit squishy.”

Rau, who operates from Brownfield, has been selling his bread at the Waterville market for eight or nine years and running the bakery for a total of 11 years.

He told customers sampling the bread that loaves made from 100 percent rye grain are not commonly sold.

“It has a bit of an alcohol note to it,” he said.

Down the line from Rau was Mary Perry, of Winterberry Farm in Belgrade, who was selling jars of jam, fermented and pickled vegetables and eggs, freshly baked cookies, berry and turkey pot pies, and the farm’s best-selling product, cut wildflowers.

Perry has been at the certified organic, horse-and-oxen-powered farm for 18 years — and a member of the Waterville market since 2007.

She said she bring her goods to market to encourage people to visit the farm, where they frequently host events. On Sunday, Perry said the farm, located at 538 Augusta Road, will have a May pole to celebrate May Day as well as sheep shearing. In the summer, Perry also puts on farm-to-table dinners.

“We want to get people to buy and eat local,” she said.

Jean Koons, of the Kennebec Cheesery, was setting out samples of fresh goat cheese. She said she was glad to be back at the market.

“It’s nice meeting the customers,” she said. “You’re sort of working away and wonder what you’re doing, so it’s nice to get some feedback.”

Koons, who is originally from New Zealand, said her cheesery offers a little bit of everything in the world of goat cheese, including fresh chevres, feta, ricotta and hard aged cheese, as well as yogurt. Soon she also will be making brie from the milk they get from their more than 40 goats.

Right now, the Sugarloaf cheese — an Alpine-style hard goat cheese with a nutty, complex flavor — is Koons’ favorite, but it often varies.

“In the summer I like the pepper chevre with tomatoes and crackers,” she said.

In addition to the market, cheese lovers can find Koons’ products at Uncle Dean’s in Waterville and at her family’s farm in Sidney, where her husband grew up. “I kept him (in New Zealand) for 20 years, and we came back here in 2001 with our three teenage kids,” she said.

Now making cheese is her full-time gig, and when the season starts, it can feel like a nonstop job.

“It’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week once the season gets started. It’s just the beginning,” she said. “We’re like little hamsters on a treadmill for nine months — milking, making cheese and selling cheese.”

Emily Higginbotham — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @EmilyHigg

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