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Farmers Market opens for season

Shoppers were lining up for fresh produce at the Chicopee Farmers market last week. Reminder Publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs
By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

CHICOPEE The area's only all-weather farmers market returned for a new season next week.

Located under the I-391 overpass in Willamansett, the Chicopee Farmers Market afford shoppers not only close-by parking but also a roof.

Market Director Jim Sroka said the traffic on the first day was very busy and he attributed it to the mailing of a flyer about the market along with residents' electric bill.

The market runs every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

This year Sroka said the market will be extended several weeks longer than usual to Sept. 10 due to demand from both farmers and customers.

And as the growing season develops there will be more farmers as well, he noted. Hamilton Orchards is new this year and was at the market with a variety of baked goods and fresh strawberries. Benben Farms might be in with corn as early as this week, Sroka noted. Fresh produce from Nuestras Raices in Holyoke will also be coming soon, he said.

Witch Mystic Farms on the South Hadley-Granby line is another of the new additions to the market. Owners Rabecca Canuel and Nicholas Laizer have a selection of organic and hand-cultivated vegetables.

There are vendors returning with fresh eggs, candies, honey, homemade jams and jellies as well as non-food vendors at the market ranging from greeting cards to household cleaners. New non-food vendors include Bobbi Snyder of Agawam who is a beader and is selling a variety of hand-made jewelry, while Loula Mountain of Chicopee is featuring soaps, salves, lip balm and bath salts at her table.

Hermine Charkoudian, the director of the WIC program for the Valley Opportunity Council that also operated the Farmers Market said the nutrition program has a table at the market and distributes food vouchers good for the purchase of local food items at the market to eligible participants. To find out eligibility requirements call 612-0214.

Nicole McKinstry of Chicopee's McKinstry's Farms had the first corn of the season for sale and said the crop looks great for this season.

Locally grown tomatoes mostly from her greenhouse, but some from the fields are also a "big hit" with consumers warned not to eat tomatoes grown in other parts of the country due to a salmonella scare.

"We can't keep them in stock," she said.