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Exploring the Salem Farmer’s Market

September 9, 2021 Published By Holly Watson

A few weeks ago I took advantage of the gorgeous weather to check out the Salem Farmer’s Market. Every Thursday vendors set up in Derby Square every from 3 – 7 p.m, selling a wide variety of produce, baked goods, and more. The atmosphere was very fun and I really enjoyed the live music, which I have definitely been missing during the pandemic. The abundance of beautiful seasonal produce was awesome and I had to stop myself from buying more than I could reasonably eat! I had a very refreshing glass of lemonade while perusing the stalls and really enjoyed participating in this Salem tradition.

Photo of musicans preforming live music at the Salem Farmers' Market August 2021

I reached out to Kylie Sullivan, who runs the Farmer’s Market, to learn more about this Salem staple.

How did you become involved with the Salem Farmers’ Market?
I happily inherited the market when I took on the role of Executive Director at Salem Main Streets (the organizing nonprofit) 8 years ago. At that point, the market was about 5 years old and already well-established as a successful market with an amazing team of volunteers.

What experiences can people expect when visiting the Farmers’ Market?
We really try to create a community center at the Market. In addition to a carefully curated selection of farm and food vendors, we also have live entertainment, several rotating spots for nonprofits and community causes, and are specifically placed in a location that encourages people to spend time, and ideally drives additional foot traffic to the downtown businesses. Derby Square was also historically a market area, so by attending the farmers market on Thursdays, you get to experience this space as it was originally intended.

Have there been any challenges running the Farmers’ Market during the COVID-19 pandemic? If so, how have you adapted in order to keep going this season?
DEFINITELY.  Last year, we were one of the only community programs allowed to continue during the shutdown Photo of the Maitland Mountian Farm stall at the Salem Farmers' Market August 2021because we provided a valuable means of food access to the community.  But in order to implement necessary COVID protocol (capacity limits, spacing, mask enforcement, etc.), we ended up moving out of the downtown district entirely to the parking lot at Bentley School. We had to turn our whole model on its head – no music, no community groups, no hanging out, just moving everyone through as quickly and safely as we could. Also, I was on maternity leave when the season started, so a huge shoutout to my committee, the City, and our community partners for making this happen at all!  We decided to start the 2021 season out at Bentley in case we had to implement public safety protocol again, but we finally moved back downtown to Derby Square a few weeks ago. It feels so good to be back!

The Farmer’s Market runs every Thursday through mid-October – do you have any advice for attending during the height of Salem’s busy season?
While parking immediately around the market can get tight, it is a 5-minute walk from either of the two City garages, very walkable from pretty much anywhere in the downtown district, and a great location to bike to (consider using a BlueBike!). The Salem Skipper is also a great new City service that can deliver you right to the market, or home when your shopping bags are full.

If you are in Salem on a Thursday from now until October 14th I highly recommend heading to the Farmers’ Market. For more information about vendor and entertainment schedules, visit their website or follow them on Facebook. Special thanks to Kylie for taking the time out of her very busy schedule to speak with me!

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This post was written by Holly Watson