Adams Farmers Market will continue — under private management


ADAMS — The Adams Farmers and Artisans Market will continue this summer thanks to a group of private citizens who have agreed to run the event.

After the town announced recently that it would no longer provide financial support for the weekly market, Adams residents Ashley Priester, Kelly Field and Glen Field announced this week in a Facebook post that they will take the reins.

A post on the market's Facebook page noted that Priester has a background in organizing local events and the Fields are avid farmers.

"Together, they are ready to take on this adventure to make sure Adams continues to have the great opportunity of local fresh food, crafts and entertainment in a family-friendly environment for the community," the post stated.

Launched in 2013, the market hosted produce and artisan vendors every Sunday at the Adams Visitors Center. In 2014, it was managed by the town's tourism director, a position that no longer exists. In the most recent year, Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco's administrative assistant handled the logistics.

But last week, Mazzucco and the board decided that the town will not allocate Town Hall staffer to organize and host the market.

"With us cutting staff every year, is it the most effective use of staff time?" Mazzucco said. He added that the town is "certainly supportive of it and wouldn't mind helping out with some logistics and maybe some marketing."

The location, dates, and times of the market will be announced at a later date.

Jen Barbeau, of Mountain Girl Farm in North Adams, was not surprised to hear that the market wouldn't continue under town leadership after a frustrating 2015 season. Mountain Girl Farm had participated in the farm each of the previous three seasons but stopped toward the end of the 2015 market season.

"We farmers found it very challenging to work with Adams," she said.

Among the several obstacles farmers setting up shop in Adams faced were the market's inability to accept debit payments or electronic benefit transfers (EBT), both of which are available at the Pittsfield and North Adams farmers markets.

Vendors interviewed by The Eagle noted the consistent flow of potential customers brought in by the nearby Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, but said the customers often didn't plan on coming to a market and didn't have cash with them. The acceptance of EBT payments would also be a help to farmers selling goods at Adams, but Mazzucco said the town was unable to meet rigorous standards required to qualify for EBT in time for the 2016 market.

"There's so much more bureaucracy to a farmers market than you'd think there would need to be," Mazzucco said.

Barbeau said the EBT program can make up about 30 percent of her farmers market business.

Dan Bergeron, owner of Gray Raven Farm in North Adams, a seller of raw, local honey and hand-crafted soaps, was a vendor at the market every weekend.

"It was a very slow market, and I'm pretty surprised that the town is not supporting it," he said.

Small markets like the one in Adams can be crucial to the success of the small, local vendors.

"They're very important. If we didn't have farmers markets — we do craft fairs also — we really wouldn't have a business," Bergeron said. "We do some internet sales, but to have that catch on you have to have people buying other places."

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.


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