Despite a high chance of rain and thunder, the Farmers Market on Thursday, July 8 was bustling with shoppers and squeals of excited children. Well-behaved dogs roamed the Boothbay Common quietly with their owners, sniffing the many smells from goods and produce.
Jan Goranson, owner of Goranson Farm, described the turnout after July 4. The post-holidays weekend was a very vibrant market. You'd think that post-holiday, folks are kind of exhausted and their company might have left and their refrigerators are still filled with food … But yeah, everything was really busy.” This reply was echoed by other farmers who, like Goranson, sell fresh, raw produce. Piper Dean, who markets for Candice Hayden, owner of Oyster Creek Mushroom Company, said the turnout was “awesome.”
Dean went on to explain how sales rose during COVID-19. Due to fewer people willing to go to grocery stores and wait in line, the Farmers Market grew a lot busier. “We were selling out like halfway through the market – just awesome! Very unusual.” Marjie Lupien of Mystique Chèvre reinforced this point. “We did better last year than I had before. People seem to want to come here where there was local (produce).”
The importance of growing a community and supporting local businesses was of large value to many vendors. “The Farmers Market gives people a chance to get closer to where their food comes from,” said Lupien.
Goranson started the market. The first location was down at Conley’s Garden Center and had only five vendors. The market then moved to the Small Mall parking lot, and then the school parking lot. The market has been on the Common 18 years. Goranson said, “This is such a nice spot here. The town of Boothbay was very receptive to us being here.” Now, the market has over 26 members.
The growth of the market and the relationship between vendors and customers is a source of motivation and purpose for Jyang Lee, who is semi-retired and owner of Jyang Lee Kitchens. “This is a blessing. I’m lucky. I have many old customers who see me in the summer. Sometimes they send a message, asking me when I’m here, since I come to this market always a little bit late. They patiently wait for me. It really makes me keep coming again. It’s an amazing thing.”
Sustainability was another common value. Anna Christina of Mana Medicinals said, “Everybody’s different, but I do try to have as little waste as possible. The teas are all made from organic ingredients and a lot of the herbs are grown organically.”
Sandra Dwight-Barris of Grey Goose Gourmet Pepper Jelly spoke of sustainability and growing community. “It’s giving back to the world, sustaining what we have and keeping us pure and definitely learning and, you know, doing all the things that just make us all better … It’s a healthier product, especially being organic or going towards organic – no chemicals and just better for the environment. It’s a good positive thing all the way around because I think more people are becoming familiar with it and are more appreciative of what’s happening in the local community.”