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FARMERS MARKETS: Summer’s bounty here to enjoy at farmers markets in Amherst, Bedford, Milford, Merrimack, Wilton and other towns

Friday, July 4, 2014

Story and photos by IRENE LABOMBARDE

Staff Writer

Summer is finally here. School is out, the crops are thriving and it’s time to visit the farmers market or your local pick-your-own fields to enjoy the fresh produce while it lasts.

Most area farm stands are open seven days a week, whether you want to pick your own fruit or just shop for locally grown produce. Within a half-hour radius of downtown Nashua, you can find a farmers market almost every day of the week, with offerings like seasonal fruits and vegetables, honey and maple syrup products, farm fresh eggs, grass fed meat, baked goods, soaps, cheeses, jams and jellies, and dog treats.

It’s fun to visit more than one market since each has a different feel to it. Some have live entertainment or crafts for children, while others prefer to keep things simple. Many vendors set up at several markets while others are more limited. As usual, there’s a mix of familiar, reliable, dedicated merchants along with newcomers and new products, and lots of free samples. Most markets have a Facebook page, so check for updated listings of vendors, entertainers and special events. Information on markets throughout the state can be found at www.nh.com or www.visitnh.gov/4-seasons/fall-harvest/farmers-markets.aspx. Additional photos of local farmers markets can be found online at www,cabinet,com.

Amherst market moves across town

The big news is the relocation of the Amherst Farmers Market from the town green to Bedford Fields of Amherst (formerly Ponemah Farms) on Route 101A. The original Bedford Fields location, on Route 101 in Bedford, hosts an indoor winter farmers market, and with the rebranding of the Amherst store in March, it seemed a good fit to move the summer market there. The vendors seem pleased with the more visible site and additional customers.

“The other location was so nice, but nobody came,” said Wayne Colsia of Paradise Farms, who with his wife manages the Amherst farmers market. “It worked well at Bedford Fields (in the winter) and I see a lot of potential here.”

“I love it, I am so psyched,” said Karen Steuer, owner of Hemlock Springs Soaps. “The town green was stunning and a perfect venue, but it was too far out of the way. This is great exposure and much more traffic.”

The Chocolate Fanatic now has a Hawaiian shaved ice machine, for a frosty treat while you shop. Those seeking something else sweet have a new source in Simple Goodness. Owner Mary McDonald has run mostly a wholesale operation, selling to the likes of Lull Farm in Milford and the Flying Butcher in Amherst, but now spends her Thursday afternoons in Amherst. She offers regular as well as gluten-free cookies and scones, made with her own blend because she said she found other gluten-free flours to be inconsistent.

“I’m quite famous for my scones,” she said. “I just made these at noon and had to wait for them to cool to put in the basket.”

Another new vendor is The Fresh Plate, which sells organic breads and spreads: Amish bread, multi-grain, German pretzels, and a variety of mustards, jams and jellies. Owner Rebecca Schwarz sold at the market in Wilton last year, and has added Merrimack and Amherst this year.

Based in Amherst, Valentine & Sons offers jars of spiced apple rings, sweet pickles, and apple butter. They sold at the winter market at Bedford Fields, and can be found at the Amherst, Milford and Bedford summer markets. Holland Farm, on Osgood Road in Milford, offers raw goat milk, goat cheese, farmhouse cheddar, and yogurt, as well as seasonal vegetables.

Wilton market news

“I am really excited about having live music every week,” said Nicole Colvin, manager of the Wilton farmers market. “We have musicians on various instruments, like the dulcimer and fiddle.”

Colvin plans on purchasing some cloth market bags soon, and allowing children to decorate them.

New vendors include the Enchanted Harvest, which sells plants and perennials; From the Garden Table, with homemade jams, mustards and condiments; and Sucker Brook Farms of Hollis, selling pasture-raised chicken, eggs, and vegetables.

“I’m new as new could be,” said Adam Pitarys, owner of Sucker Brook. “I grew up in Hollis and have always wanted to farm.”

This is his third year raising chickens on his 1.5 acre farm. Pitarys has 95 laying hens, and has planted a variety of vegetables like tomatoes, squash, corn and pumpkins. In addition to the Wilton market, he also sells in Merrimack on Wednesdays.

“I have a little bit of everything,” he said. “I am trying to do it small but do it right.”

Milford market news

Now in its 38th year, the Milford farmers market remains a popular weekend destination, with a mix of loyal vendors and several new booths this year.

“The people are very friendly and we’re compact, easy to get around,” said Adrienne Colsia, manager. “Our vendors are in a big wide circle, with musicians in the middle. It’s a fun environment.”

New vendors include New Leaf Farms, with organic vegetables, and King Street Vineyards, offering grapevines and blueberry bushes. Laurel Hill Jams & Jellies, sold at several other markets in the area, has expanded to Milford this summer. Valentine & Sons offers jars of spiced apple rings, sweet pickles, and apple butter. They sold at the winter market at Bedford Fields, and can be found at the Amherst, Milford and Bedford summer markets.

Merrimack market news

Shoppers at the Merrimack farmers market can now buy meat raised right in town on Peaslee Road. Donald Miner, owner of the Miner Family Farm, has been selling pork for several years, and has just begun to offer beef as well, along with his seasoning blends.

“I like to know what I’m eating,” he said. “I have my boars and sows on the property, and breed and raise my own (meat).”

Adam Pitarys, owner of Sucker Brook Farm in Hollis, has farm fresh eggs and pasture-raised chicken meat for sale, as well as a variety of vegetables. For those who prefer seafood, Sunrise Adventure Charters sells fresh lobster, usually $1 per pound less than what the supermarket charges.

Gehling’s Gourmet Goodies has returned, and along with the regular and gluten-free cookies and brownies is a new item: the coffee chocolate chip cookie shot. It’s an edible beverage holder, originally created by Dominique Ansel at his Soho bakery in New York. Ansel also invented the cronut, a cross between a croissant and a doughnut.

“They use these in Manhattan,” explained owner Bob Gehling. “People stand in line for two hours and are only allowed to buy two. You fill it with ice cold milk. I went (to Ansel’s bakery) to try the cronuts but they didn’t have any left, so I tried this and knew it was something I had to bring to New Hampshire.”

Bedford market news

The Bedford farmers market moved from the Benedictine property off Wallace Road to the parking lot of Saint Elizabeth Seton Parish on Meetinghouse Road in 2012, and has seen an exponential increase in business. According to manager Cherilyn Bukofske, vendors have seen their income triple since the move.

The market operates at full capacity, with over 40 vendors and a waiting list. There is live music each week, along with entertainers such as Jack Sparrow and Enchanted Princesses, artists, crafts and raffles. A new Sit and Sip area has been added to encourage a leisurely visit.

“We have come a long way from the quaint, cozy, market at Benedictine Park,” said Bukofske. “We have gone from a handful of vendors to almost fifty in the last year and a half. St. Elizabeth is a wonderful location, it’s close to the highway, the parking lot is spacious, plenty of room for parking, and easy access for those who are handicapped.”

Many educational programs are offered. Rusty’s Heirloom Tomatoes will speak on growing the perfect tomatoes, and the Gardening Rocks Mobile Farm shows children where their food comes from.

Several merchants who set up at other markets have joined the Bedford market this year, including Bee Field Farms and Paradise Farm.

Other new vendors include The Soup Guy, Will ‘n Roses (soaked and slow-dried nuts and seeds), Aissa’s Sweets (Syrian desserts), Alberto’s Homemade Cuisine (meatball subs), Aquaponics (tilapia, vegetables, eggs, plants and flowers), Homegrown Mushroom Company, Blackwater Mustard Company, Hungry Bear Farm, Temple-Wilton Community Farm, Nomad Bakery, Tender Love and Cookies, Rae’s Gourmet Specialty Foods, Cucina Aurora (infused olive oils), Valentine & Sons (spiced apple rings, sweet pickles and apple butter), Julie’s Happy Hens, East Coast Sales (dog treats), and Blue-by-Ewe Farm (natural dyed yarn, culinary herbs, lamb meat, and almost any lamb product).

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