The short answer: Not this year.
After reading the articles “Farm Stands vs. Farmer’s Markets” in Branford’s Shore paper and “Old dairy farm to be used for farmer’s market” in the New Haven Register, I decided to attend the North Branford Agriculture Commission’s meeting tonight with my dad.
You can read the articles to get more information, but the short story is that Branford’s farmers are concerned that a farmer’s market will hurt their business, as they all have well-established farm markets on site. The were also hurt that they were not consulted in the decision. Branford has decided to table the idea for now. North Branford is considering a farmer’s market.
Anyway, in North Branford (which is a totally different town than Branford, but includes Northford), some members of the Agriculture Commission brought up the idea of a farmer’s market in town, on the Augur property in Northford. I wasn’t sure what to think. On one hand, farmer’s markets promote local agriculture, and that’s good. On the other hand, farmer’s markets can draw business away from local farms, and can also have vendors that sell produce they bought, for example from the Hartford market. The Madison Farmer’s market is a prime example. They have businesses from all around the state, not the ones from their own town or surrounding towns. As I stated at the meeting tonight: “Go to the Madison Farmer’s Market on a Friday afternoon, and then tell me what it has to do with agriculture.” That would be my biggest fear, that businesses from different parts of the state would come in and take customers away from our town.
In the end, it seemed that all farmers in attendance of tonight’s meeting were opposed to the idea of a farmer’s market in our town. They had varying reasons. Some were afraid that it would take away their business. Some questioned who the vendors would be and where they would get their produce. My dad stated that he thought farmer’s markets were made up of “gypsies,” who didn’t have their own markets and could have gotten their produce from anywhere. My concern was who would regulate all of the vendors and their produce, guaranteeing that it was actually from local farms.
In the end, the message was clear: the Agriculture Commission is there to promote farming in town, and if North Branford farmers don’t want to have a farmer’s market, then there most likely won’t be one. The head of the Commission suggested getting together all of the town’s farmers for a big discussion in November, to get input on the idea. I think that’s a great step in the right direction.
Another idea came up at the meeting, and on the way home my dad and I both agreed it sounded good. The idea is to have a farmer’s market-type event hosted by a local farm, where all the town’s farmers could set up a table and showcase their produce. This event would be a once or twice a year event, and would promote North Branford’s farmers. My dad even said he would consider hosting such an event at Rose Orchards. I think it would be a great way to promote farming in town, and also a great way to bring together North Branford’s farmers.
On an unrelated note, I got to see the logo that the Commission has developed for “North Branford Grown.” I really liked it and can’t wait to see it in use!