The Stoneham Farmers Market, officially known as the Farm Hill Farmers Market, is now open for the season. Every Tuesday, from 2pm-7pm, rain or shine, you can stop by the Stoneham Common and peruse a variety of vendors, seeking fresh produce and other artisan products. I stopped by their opening day and was very pleased with what I found, especially the changes that have been instituted since last year. There is even more reason now to stop by the market each week.
This is the second year for the market and it has been moved from the Stoneham Senior Center to the Town Common. This provides a larger and more open space for the market, as well as making it more visible and easier to access. The new location should draw in larger crowds, as well as more vendors. The circular nature of the commons also makes it very easy to walk around the vendors, to ensure you see each and every one. The relocation was an excellent idea and should be a boon to the market. The Senior Center has their own booth where they sell raffle tickets and old-fashioned soda.
The market has more vendors than last year, and it appears some additional ones will be joining the market in the near future. I was also pleased to see some of my favorite vendors from last year have returned. The vendors appeared well stocked with lots of delicious fruits, vegetables and baked goods. I am eagerly looking forward to stopping by the market each week, to stock up on local products. Nothing beats getting fruits and vegetables at the peak of their season.
There will be at least four local farms at the market selling fresh produce, including Lanni Orchards, Jones Farm, Spring Brook Farm and El Silvia Farm. The competition should help keep prices down. Above is the Lanni Orchards table, and you can see strawberries, blueberries, apples, cider, and more. Plus, they also sell a good selection of fresh vegetables.
The El Silvia Farms uses Integrated Pest Management practices to reduce the use of pesticides, and indicate that the produce they are selling that date is pesticide-free. It is certainly helpful information if you have concerns about pesticides, as we generally should.
Returning for a second year is Mamadou's Artisan Bakery, one of my favorite places to get fresh, artisan bread. Located in Winchester, this small bakery produces maybe a dozen different types of breads, all delicious. They also only produce bread, and that specialization leads to a top-notch product. My favorite is their Sesame Semolina and I have to be very disciplined not to tear off a piece to eat before I get home. If you want bread to impress, Mamadou is where to get it.
Another of my returning favorites is the MooBaaNaa Cheese Company, which sells an assortment of local, New England cheeses, including artisan goat cheeses, mozzarella, aged gouda, cheddar, triple creme and more. I have tried a number of their products and none have ever disappointed. They also sell Fat Toad Farm caramel sauces, which are made with goat's milk and are very smooth and creamy. Even if you don't like goat's milk cheeses, you will still enjoy this caramel, which is one of the better ones I have tasted.
Another returning vendor, they sell only fresh-baked Italian bread and muffins, of various sizes.
A new vendor is the Soluna Garden Farm, from Winchester, which sells organic hand-blended herbs, spices and herbal teas. They have a one-acre farm where they have sustainably grown herbs and flowers. They do not use chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or preservatives. They have a very interesting selection of herbs and spices, and offered samples of a couple herbal iced teas, including Summer Sunshine Tea and Ruby Rose Tea. They were both lightly sweetened with agave nectar and were quite pleasant to drink, though I am not usually a sweet tea drinker. The sweetness was more subdued, and the herbal flavors were quite good.
Another new vendor is Bagel Alley, of Nashua, New Hampshire, which sells about a dozen varieties of bagels, each costing $1.25, or 6 for $6, or 12 for $10.
There are a few non-food vendors at the market as well. Returning again, is Ginny Varney’s Animal Relief Fund, which sells freshly baked dog biscuits and handmade catnip mice.
You will also find a very aromatic and perfumy table, operated by Kaleidoscope Soaps, who sell a diverse collection of hand-made goat's milk soaps.
I will be returning to the market on Tuesday, looking forward to any new vendors, as well as checking out my favorites to stock up for the week. I strongly urge you to support local farmers markets. You will find plenty of excellent and fresh items, which may be healthier for you than many of the alternatives at grocery stores. The Farm Hill Farmers Market is even better than last year, and it is well worth making it a weekly stop. There is plenty of parking in the area so you can easly access it.
I hope to see you there.