Weekly Orange Farmers’ Market to start May 12

  • The Orange Farmers’ Market is preparing for the 2022 season. It will operate in the Orange Armory parking lot, 135 East Main St., from 3 to 6 p.m. on Thursdays from May 12 to Oct. 20. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Tony Leger of Foothill Farm and Grace Gardens talks with Athol resident Lisa Caranfa at the Orange Farmers’ Market last summer. The market will operate for the 2022 season in the Orange Armory parking lot, 135 East Main St., from 3 to 6 p.m. on Thursdays from May 12 to Oct. 20. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Orange Farmers’ Market, pictured last summer, will operate for the 2022 season in the Orange Armory parking lot, 135 East Main St., from 3 to 6 p.m. on Thursdays from May 12 to Oct. 20. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 5/6/2022 12:31:22 PM
Modified: 5/6/2022 12:31:31 PM

ORANGE — The Orange Farmers’ Market is gearing up for the 2022 season, with fewer COVID-19 restrictions than the previous two years.

The open-air market is slated to operate in the Orange Armory parking lot from 3 to 6 p.m. on Thursdays from May 12 to Oct. 20. Tony Leger, chair of the Orange Farmers’ Market Committee, said there will be three new vendors and a more relaxed approach to dealing with the pandemic, though customers should feel welcome to practice any safety precautions they want.

“Mostly, we’re going with the flow, like everybody else is,” Leger said, adding that most, if not all, vendors will wear masks. “The public, it’s up to them.”

There will be clear markings of entrances and exits to the market and its vendors, as well as signs, cones, tape and markings as needed to control pedestrian and vehicle flow. No “early-bird” customers will be permitted.

Vendors will sell vegetables, baked goods, craft items, annual and perennial plants, milk and ice cream, and handmade tinctures and salves. The new vendors are expected to carry soaps, pastries, bowls and boards.

“It takes a lot of effort and coordination to make it all come together for the opening day,” Leger said in a phone interview shortly after tending to the plants he plans to sell at his own market stand.

The market is in need of volunteers to assist with various operational aspects, including assisting with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) customers, setting up and dismantling vendors’ tables, and serving as market outreach coordinator and volunteer coordinator. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Market Manager Rachel Gonzalez at 978-413-0740.

Gonzalez, who operates Rachel’s Everlastings farm in Orange, is looking forward to offering local agriculture in a more lax atmosphere.

“We won’t have all the barriers that we have in the past and it’ll be … much lighter and not so serious,” she said. “I am excited for this year and all the great produce and products that we’re going to have.”

Gonzalez explained the Orange Farmers’ Market will, as many do, offer tokens to facilitate SNAP transactions. She said SNAP customers can have their EBT cards processed for a specific amount and receive tokens of equal value, often in denominations of $1. She said this allows customers to buy food from vendors who lack a card reader to process EBT transactions. Because change cannot be dispensed for SNAP purchases, Gonzalez explained, vendors will help customers round up their purchases with smaller items to make up the difference when necessary.

Live music and other entertainment will again be featured at the farmers’ market thanks to an Orange Cultural Council grant.

The Orange Farmers’ Market Committee is also in need of financial support to maintain stability, with donations being tax-deductible. This year’s expenses — including insurance, portable toilet rentals, music, market manager stipend, and other annual and one-time expenses — are predicted to exceed the market’s income by more than $2,000. Vendor fees were increased two seasons ago to help address shortfalls. Being level-funded from last year will require at least $2,000.

The committee, Leger reported, is in desperate need of a website, a stipend for a volunteer coordinator and more funding for the market manager’s stipend. Gonzalez, the market’s manager for nine years, did the job for free for several years before a $1,000 stipend was instituted. Leger said this figure is “woefully inadequate.”

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com.


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