Delawareans still value local foods and farm-fresh products as demonstrated by a strong 2016 farmers’ market season with over $2.9 million dollars in direct sales, according to the Delaware Department of Agriculture. Although Spring has just arrived, the Riverwalk Farmers Market Committee in Milford has been meeting since January, preparing for the 2017 Season. Applications have been sent to past participants and the committee is welcoming new vendors to join the tradition that spans more than two decades.
This year will mark the 22nd season of the Farmers’ Market in Milford. The tradition of the market began with residents of Milford merely backing their pickup trucks up to the Mispillion River to share their vegetables, fruits and handmade items with other locals on Saturday mornings. It has now evolved into an affair that not only preserves the small town feel of Milford but also promotes downtown Milford as a center for economic activity. The market starts on Saturday, May 6 and runs through October 7 this year.
“We are looking forward to seeing everyone again. Our vendors and customers are our extended family. We can’t have a great market without them and the first few weeks of the market are like a family reunion,” said Farmers’ Market Chair Melissa Pingue. “Everyone catching up on what’s new in each other’s lives.”
In addition to market favorites including Mule Run Meats, Water Girl Farm and Dolce, the committee is also looking forward to introducing a few new vendors this year. So far four new vendor applications have been accepted which will offer soaps, canned foods and produce.
Pingue states that residents and visitors to Milford enjoy the ability to meet face to face with local farmers to discuss the quality and care of produce and other products. Through Downtown Milford Inc. volunteers, farmers’ market attendees are also encouraged to support other local businesses in downtown Milford.
“Our market in particular is very important to the downtown area of Milford. It not only brings great quality products to our town but also attracts 300-400 people a week to the area…,” said Pingue. “These people are hopefully visiting local shops and restaurants. We do our best to promote the downtown businesses…” The market will bring back the monthly free raffles which include gift certificates to nearby businesses. They are also in contact with local talent to come out and perform at the market.
A focus of the Farmers’ Market Committee this year is inclusiveness. The SNAP program will continue which will allow many families access to fresh local produce and meats. New programs will include Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) programs. The market will be accepting WIC coupons this year from June to October. These coupons can only be used at farmers’ markets to purchase local produce. Members of the committee will also be involved in SFSP, establishing a site for the program where a sponsor will deliver and serve lunches to school age children who would normally get a free or reduced lunch during the school year.
“The committee has realized that we need to make sure our market is inclusive for all,” said Pingue. “We have such a beautiful market, we want to make sure it is truly enjoyed by all who live and work in Milford and surrounding areas.”
The 2017 Riverwalk Farmers’ Market season in downtown Milford will begin on May 6 and run through October 7, from 9am to 1pm every Saturday. Vendor applications are currently available online on Downtown Milford Inc.’s website at downtownmilford.org by selecting the Farmers Market tab.
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