Market organizer Sally Gore, who also runs the weekend Wilmington Antique and Flea Market at the same location, says the market has been on her mind since July 4. “Which was on a Wednesday this year,” Gore notes. “And people were asking if (the Wilmington Antique and Flea Market) would be open. But we had no permit, and didn’t have time to advertise.”
Gore said she offered the space to the chamber of commerce and other groups for the Fourth, and later talked to the organizers of the now defunct Wilmington Farmers’ Market that had been held in the village.
“I realized the property wasn’t being fully utilized,” she says. The property is used through the winter as a VAST snowmobile registry site, and for the flea market on summer and early fall weekends. But the roadside plot sits idle on most summer weekdays.
But before Gore could open the gates to local growers and producers she had to obtain a permit to expand the operation to include another day, which she says wasn’t a problem since she was already planning to appear before the Development Review Board for other minor changes to her permit. “They encouraged me to look at what I might do with the property down the road,” she says.
The Wednesday farmers’ market opened for a seven-week trial period at the beginning of September and, Gore says, so far it has been a success. “There’s a nice mix of produce, crafts, and other things,” she says. “The thing that impresses me the most is the creativity, and what people can do. It’s the old Vermont spirit, I guess.”
Even on this week’s drizzly Wednesday afternoon, there were eight vendors and a steady stream of customers. Most Wednesdays there have been at least twice as many vendors and more traffic, Gore notes. And she’s had calls from other local growers, including a nearby orchard, interested in the market.
For now, Gore is donating the spaces to vendors and has also paid for advertising and to have signs made. If the public finds the market a worthwhile exercise, Gore says it’s likely she’ll continue next year with a charge for the spaces.
According to the vendors at this week’s market, sales have been brisk enough to warrant continued operation. Donna and Craig Stone, of the Stone Family Farm in East Dover, said sales of their maple syrup and honey at the market have been strong. Yesterday, despite the damp weather, Donna Stone said she was having one of her best market days yet. “It has been worth it for us to come out,” she said. “I hope it works out – it’s nice to have a market like this in the area.”
Artist Wayne Pratt had a number of handcrafted items on sale at his stall. He seemed unconcerned about sales levels. “(Art) is a way of life for me,” he said. “There are few people who can say they don’t do things for money. But the bills always seem to get paid.”
But Pratt said he’s in full support of the market, and its continued operation. “If we (vendors) don’t put in the time this year, it won’t be here next year.”
Kathy Bell, of Halifax, said she has tried selling produce from her Collins Road property, but with little luck. “We did sell quite a few pumpkins last year, though,” she said. “Our major cash crop is hay, but this gives us an opportunity to expand.” She said the market also helps her figure out what sells and what doesn’t. “That way I’ll know what to plant next year.”
The table in Cheri Crawford’s stall was covered with tiny, hand-knit caps - hats for babies, with sizes to fit newborns to toddlers. On Wednesday, Crawford even had a seasonally-appropriate pumpkin hat on display.
Although Crawford said her hats weren’t flying off the table this week, she said she’ll continue to participate in the market.
Spinner Sherry Adams offers her handspun wool, hand-knit wool items, and homemade pies. Adams said she sells out of the pies almost every week. On Wednesday, she said she had already sold most of her pies before she had a chance to set up her booth. “People like homemade things, and they like local things,” she notes.
Adams lures people to her stall with her live spinning demonstration, and while she chats with visitors at the table, the fragrant apple and pumpkin pies are sitting right under their noses.
The market will be open Wednesdays through October 16.