In addition to all of the food available for purchase, a farmers market is a community event that is enjoyable in its own right. You will see your friends and neighbors, and meet people who live in Winchester and neighboring communities. Local music and theater performers will perform each week, and eventually we hope that local craftspeople will demonstrate traditional, local crafts.
Farmers market pricing is often different from that in supermarkets or even other farmers markets in other parts of the country. Most organic produce in a supermarket comes from farms that are part of large commercial agro-businesses, which have economies of scale not possible for small, local farmers to maintain. Many organic farms that supply supermarkets are in areas of the world where land is much less expensive than it is in New England (especially Massachusetts), and where the growing season is much longer. The short and unpredictable growing season in New England means that a farmer must spend a lot of money and time to have produce ready as early and late in the season as possible.
Please feel free to ask a farmer how he or she specifically determines price. Veteran farmers market shoppers find that some farmers may be willing to negotiate, especially if customers plan to buy in larger quantities.
In order to participate in the Winchester Farmers Market, farmers are required to follow organic or other sustainable practices, including integrated pest management (IPM). IPM is a farming practice that aims to control pests in an environmentally responsible manner that eliminates or reduces pesticide use, compared to standard conventional farming.
Because the organic certification process is quite complex, time consuming, and expensive, some farmers who use organic methods choose not to get certified. Also, some farmers certify specific crops as organic, even if their entire farm is not certified.
The most important way that you can support the farmers market is to attend and buy from the participating farmers. Sustainable Winchester is a nonprofit organization that relies on grants, donations, and volunteers. The launching of the Winchester Farmers Market has been an entirely volunteer effort supported by a small grant from the New England Wind Fund. The Winchester Farmers Market gratefully accepts donations to support the many costs of successfully launching and running the market. Volunteers are also welcome to participate in the various planning and weekly activities necessary for running the market. Details are available on the Support page of the Market section.