Farmers Market back in business after Covid changes

Jun 4, 2021

The masks were gone, replaced with visible smiles.

That was just one change shoppers noticed during the first Dartmouth Farmer’s Market of the season, held June 4 outside St. Mary’s Parish Center.

“It kind of feels like a bit of normalcy,’’ market manager Susan Murray said. “It’s back to how it used to be.’’

Next week, the traditional look will be augmented by the sounds of summer as musical entertainment returns to the weekly venue.

The market still took place last year, but Covid conditions provided a much more streamlined approach. The market was moved to the parket lot, with rigid traffic patterns. No one was allowed to touch the products being sold.

This year, the market returned to its traditional spot on the parish center lawn. Every Friday, from 1 to 6 p.m., visitors are welcome to check out the local food and crafts. The markets are held weekly through Oct. 22.

Offerings ranged from fresh meat, vegetables and honey to more unusual selections, including key chains made from beer and soda tops and fresh guacamole.

Items for sale at the market must be locally grown or created, Murray said. 

“The whole agricultural process is interesting,’’ said Ashley Mercier, who was checking out the handmade soaps. She said she also likes to support small businesses.

Rosie’s Sweets owner Rosie Kazan said she was pleased with the day’s turnout, despite grey skies that blocked the sun. “It was very positive,’’ she said, standing behind her selection of cookies and other pastries. “People came out even with this weather.’’

A table from the Solanus Casey Pantry in New Bedford allowed shoppers to donate non-perishable items for the pantry, which is open from 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday and Thursday at 238 Bonney St.

Covid conditions have increased the number of people seeking help at the pantry, said Barbara Najjar, a parishioner at St. Mary’s Church and a supporter of the pantry.

The pantry served 150 people a week prior to the pandemic, she said. The need grew to as many as 500 visitors at the height of Covid conditions, she said. The numbers have dropped to about 300 to 350 now, she said.

The pantry has a collection box in front of the parish center to accept donations from the community.

Najjar said pantry representatives plan to visit the market every week. “The need is still there,’’ she said.