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Hampden Farmers' Market ready for its second season

Date: 5/17/2010

May 17, 2010.

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

HAMPDEN - Although it's early in the season, the Hampden Farmers' Market is already prepared to offer the best in fresh, local produce to those in the area.

The farmers' market, hosted at 522 Main St., opened for its second season this past weekend and it will be open every Saturday through October from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"Last year was terrific. We had no complaints," market co-organizer Karen Hatch said. "There was a lot to be learned but we had a lot of fun. We had a good number of vendors, averaging about eight a week. The biggest struggle last year was getting the word out."

Hatch added that the whole idea behind establishing the farmers' market was to get people to buy healthy, local food.

This time of year, vegetables such as rhubarb, kale and asparagus will be available to shoppers. A harvest chart from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources is available on the market's Web site to let people know when certain items, from apples to zucchini, will be available.

Hatch said plans for a Strawberry Festival are being worked on now. The festival, which would take place at the peak of strawberry season on June 19 and 26 and July 3, would include coupons, a variety of free recipes and partnerships with local restaurants (Olivia's Restaurant on Boston Road in Wilbraham and La Cucina De Hampden House are tentatively on board already) to serve the berries.

"Strawberries are very popular and there are so many things you can do with them," Hatch said. "I don't know anybody who doesn't like strawberries."

Another new plan for this year is for local businesses to buy surplus produce at the close of each market to be donated to those in need through organizations like the Hampden Senior Center and the Open Pantry in Springfield.

"This benefits the vendors and the community," Hatch said. "We'd like to reach out further to those in need. We're asking for donations of about $50 worth of food if businesses are interested."

The Hampden Farmers' Market also helps its community by making space available for charitable and non-profit organizations, and cans and bottles that require a deposit can be brought to the recycle shed each week, with proceeds being donated to the Boy Scouts.

"Last year was a wonderful year for a market, but this year will be even better than last year," Hatch said.

Those who come to the market can enter a free drawing every week, compliments of participating vendors. Senior coupons and WIC are accepted.

For more information, visit