Athol Farmers Market moves downtown

  • The Athol Farmers Market will move to the Millers River Environmental Center this Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/DEBORRAH PORTER

Staff Writer
Published: 8/9/2018 10:41:44 PM

ATHOL — With the blessing of the Board of Selectmen and the cooperation of the Millers River Environmental Center, the Athol Farmers Market will relocate to the 100 Main St. on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon, starting Aug. 11.

Mary Holtorf, who became manager of the Athol Farmers Market last year, said the small, committed group was operating on the uptown common, selling fresh vegetables, meat and eggs. She will work with the Millers River Environmental Center and the Bird & Nature Club, with the cooperation of ABNC President David Small.

Holtorf said vendors in general wanted to move the market downtown and wanted to stay on town property. She talked to MREC, because they were also looking for someplace with green grass and trees.

“They agreed to sponsor us,” said Holtorf.

“(Athol Police) Officer Ron Cote provided us with safety cones and pedestrian signs,” she said. “We’ve been trying to cover all the bases. We’re looking forward to being there.”

She said she is happy to be able to work with MREC and ABNC, adding “I feel like there’s a lot of potential; we can bring a lot to them, and they can bring a lot to us. They can open the center on Saturdays and to do programs, and we have the potential to extend market through winter.”

Uptown on the common, the market vendors did not have access to electricity, water or bathrooms.

“It’s a big plus for us to share their facility and bring attention to them and promote the center,” she said, noting that the Athol Animal Control center holds their fundraiser flea market across the street on the corner of Canal and Main streets. “That’s another group we can cross-promote with and bring more attention to the downtown,” she said.

Small told the Selectmen that following a presentation to the ABNC board on July 23, the use of the lawn for the farmers market was unanimously approved.

“The ABNC supports the local food economy and the farmers market concept is in keeping with out environmental message. I feel it is our (leased lawn) to use as we feel best meets our organization goals,” he said.

He said many members think hosting the market is “a way to give back to the community that has been so generous with support for our Center.”

He further stated that public safety concerns “are not in our wheelhouse” but they would work with the Athol Police Department to assist in any way to mitigate any concerns. “Agent Deb (Vondal) has the Board of Health issues under control no matter where in the town it is set up.”

The market will be set up on the corner of Main and Walnut streets at the MREC.

“We are reaching out to the people who can walk to the market,” said Holtorf. “The traffic is slower in this area.”

She added that the Athol Agricultural Committee, which hosts the farmers market, is in need of members.

“We need help,” she said “We can’t get a quorum.”

Those interested in serving on this committee are asked to contact the Town Manager Shaun Suhoski or town administrative assistant Bridget Sullivan at 978-249-2368.

Holtorf said the market has a Facebook page for those looking for information. She noted it does not accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Healthy Incentives Program or senior market coupons.

“That’s something we’d really like to get set up and running again,” she said.

Customers who will drive to the market can find parking behind the MREC building as well as along the side of the street. Drivers are asked to take extra precautions when driving in this area during market hours, as there may be added pedestrian traffic in the crosswalks and parking spaces.

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