The Boothbay Farmers’ Market opened for another season with 27 members selling a variety of vegetables, plants, coffees and beers. It was a lot like past markets except for one major difference. This year’s is the first Lin the COVID-19 era. Fifteen tents assembled May 21 on Boothbay Common for the local Farmers’ Market’s first day. This is Dan Sortwell’s 12th year at the market. He owns Big Barn Coffee. For merchants like Sortwell, a farmers’ market is an ideal place to sell his roasted coffee.
He roasts his Big Barn Coffee from beans grown in Indonesia and Ethiopia. Sortwell uses a roasting process in his Wiscasset location which produces a high-quality coffee. “The result is a smooth flavor profile, and I think that’s why my customers buy it. They enjoy buying from the source so they can speak to the person individually, not something produced 3,000 miles away purchased in a supermarket.”
Sortwell is also president of the Boothbay Farmers’ Market Association. While the members are glad a new season has begun, he reported the membership knows all about the health scare caused by the pandemic. “We are aware things are different. Everyone is taking precautions and following guidelines set up by the Maine Department of Agriculture and Maine Federation of Farmers’ Market’s guidelines. Among those guidelines is members being required to wear masks, use six-foot social distancing, have patrons all walk in the same direction, and members must wipe down service areas after interacting with customers.
Boothbay Craft Brewery is part of the market for a second year. Sharon Fortune has worked for the Boothbay business nearly three years. She is an assistant brewer and bartender. Fortune expects to work most of the Thursday dates at this year’s market. “I love being out here in the sunshine. I’ve claimed this spot because it is such a wonderful way to meet people and educate them about craft beers,” she said. Fortune’s major task is promoting several craft brews like Thirsty Botanist, Jumping Rise, Ken Brown Ale, Southporter, and Steganos and Wet Hop Dreams. Fortune also promotes the brewery’s tavern season which started earlier in the week. “I let them know about our outside dining options and our organic pizza,” she said.
Many of the organic ingredients come from the market, like Dharma Farms, Goranson’s Farms and Erskine’s Hootenanny bread, she said.
Each year, the membership meets in March to discuss the upcoming season. Members decide whether or not to admit new members. The Boothbay Common is fairly crowed with vendors each year, but Sortwell believes there is room for a few more. The association pays a $100 refundable deposit to Boothbay and members each pay $150 in dues each year. The market runs Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon. The season ends Oct. 4.