Riverwalk Farmer’s Market Opens This Saturday

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farmersmarket-200x300By Terry Rogers

The Riverwalk Farmer’s Market opens this Saturday, May 4, opening at 9 am and running until 1 pm. The market, which is located on North Walnut Street in a section of the beautiful Mispillion Riverwalk, offers fresh produce, locally grown farm products, as well as arts and crafts every Saturday from May to October.

The vision of the Riverwalk Farmer’s Market’s is to provide an opportunity to buy local produce and products; support farm families, agriculture and the environment; preserve Milford’s small town feel; build a sense of community; raise awareness of environment and health issues; and to promote the downtown area as a center of economic activity.

The market began approximately 13 years ago when several downtown merchants decided it would be an interesting addition to the downtown area. One of the original founders, Nancy Chirdon-Forster, and the owner of Verde Italian Cooking School, still participates in the committee. The market eventually became part of Downtown Milford, Inc. (DMI), and was operated by Jim Cooper for several years before his retirement. During Jim’s oversight, the market expanded to include not only local produce and farm items but arts and crafts as well. Today, the Riverwalk Farmer’s Market is operated by a committee of approximately ten members which include vendors, buyers and DMI members.

“The market primarily offers seasonal farm produce, such as tomatoes, squash, corn, and other locally grown items,” said Lee Nelson, Executive Director of DMI. “In addition, the market offers items created with things grown locally, such as jams, honey, cheeses and meats. This makes up approximately 70 percent of the products offered. About 30 percent of the items available are handcrafted arts and crafts, reviewed by the committee to be sure the item fits into the market vision.”

According to Melissa Pingue, Chairman of the Riverwalk Farmer’s Market, many of the vendors from previous years are returning this year, along with a few new vendors. In addition, the committee has been working diligently since January to not only make the market a place to purchase items, but also a place to bring the family, gather to have conversations with friends and neighbors, meet new people and even learn new things.

“The market has become a social event and we want people to come for more than five minutes and explore all the things the market has to offer,” Pingue explained. “We are especially pleased to have TS Smith and T.A. Farms joining us this year. These are very large, popular farms and we are excited that they are interested in joining our market. We are also pleased to have Little Wagon Produce returning again as they really attract customers with their fresh produce (especially the sweet corn) and beautiful flower baskets.” Other vendors include Beth’s Whimsically, Coastal Cottage Soaps, Dave’s Nursery, Davidson’s Exotic Mushrooms, Delaware Provisions, For Love Farm, Ginger Blossom Floral, Jewelry by S&G, Just Emily, Meadowsong Farm, Tout de Suite, Triple M Farms, Vaya Wisseman, Watergirl Farm, Gravelly Run, Barberry Row Produce, Double D Produce, and Kalypso Pottery. This year Riverwalk Farmer’s Market is planning to offer events as an additional attraction for visitors.

“This Saturday, May 3, Best Ace Hardware is sponsoring a ‘Planting Project’ for the kids,” said Tiffany Walter, Internal Promotions Chairman for the market. “Children can come out and plant a seed of their choice, either flower or vegetable, to take home.” Tiffany also says that Milford Community Band will again appear on the first Saturday of each month, beginning in June, as they have in previous years. Other events planned are the Annual Strawberry Social on June 8 with Nancy Chirdon-Forster’s new cooking school partnering with the market on the event. Abbott’s Mill Nature Center will give demonstrations on green living on one Saturday during the market as well.

Currently, the market has approximately 20 vendors, but has room for between 35 and 40, so they are always looking for those who want to offer their products.

“For the princely sum of $12, vendors are provided a tent and a table,” Nelson said. “All they have to do is bring their products, set up before nine and leave at one. We take down the table and the tent.” Nelson said that the market is looking for more in the line of dairy products such as cheeses, yogurt, butter, and even eggs as those are product lines the market is missing currently. Since many of the vendors provide seasonal items, new items appear almost every week, while others go out of season.

Vendors may still apply to join the Riverwalk Farmer’s Market by visiting www.downtownmilford.org, clicking on the Farmer’s Market link at the top of the page, and then clicking on the Vendor Application link at the bottom of the page. Print the application, complete it and send it to Downtown Milford Inc. at the address provided, and it will be forwarded to the committee for review.