This is the best time to visit your neighborhood’s farmers market

There will be no shortage of fresh foods, handcrafted goods, or community-building this week and next as Dorchester and Mattapan welcomes the seasonal return of an impressive lineup of markets and farm stands beginning in just a couple of days. Some markets will look familiar to longtime fans, while other will offer refreshed looks and brands for the upcoming season.

Ashmont Friday Market (Ashmont MBTA/Droser Plaza)
July 12 – Oct. 25. Fridays, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The Ashmont Friday Market is getting a revamp after 16 years of being known as the Ashmont Farmers Market, said Elle Marrone, executive director of Greater Ashmont Main Streets. The change is the result of community discussions about what kind of program best suits their needs.

“This rebranding is trying to put entrepreneurs and change-makers at the center of this market, to potentially reach local residents who felt a farmers market wasn’t welcoming or relevant to them,” Marrone said. “Fundamentally, we’re not changing too much about the market, but we’re leaving room for new ideas.”

Small businesses are going to be at the center of the Friday Market and will have the chance to advertise themselves to residents and learn what neighbors want to see from them, as well as create a place for neighbors to gather, Marrone said. There will be all kinds of vendors as well as live music, arts and crafts, culinary lessons, and even dog training demonstrations.

“Anybody who is interested in getting to know neighbors, local resources, get involved in more volunteer opportunities, or anybody who’s interested in becoming more active or familiar with their community, the Friday Market is a perfect entree to that,” Marrone said.“We don’t think that we are your typical farmers market, so maybe we own that,” she added.

Mattapan Square Farmers Market (corner of Cummins Highway and Fairway Street)
July 13 – Oct. 26. Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition (MFFC), which is hosting the Mattapan Square Farmers Market, has been focused on bringing healthy and organic food to the neighborhood for the past 18 years. Shavel’le Olivier, MFFC’s executive director, said they have heard from the community that a market like this brings culturally significant ingredients to the neighborhood.

“It’s really important that farmers markets represent the community in which the they are in, because when you have that it helps to create a feeling of trust and familiarity,” Olivier said. “Most of the farmers that we have are selling the foods that our residents are looking for, and that they cook with on a daily basis.”

Olivier said that community programming is also important, which is why they are offering container gardening lessons, cooking demonstrations, Kids’ Corner activities, bike repair workshops, and other physical activities.

“Over time, what we’ve realized is that our market became a place where people can come to socialize, to talk, to meet with each other to network, and also, it’s become a place of information sharing,” Olivier said, “Whether it’s formally by the different vendors that we have, or informally just us talking to our residents, you know, asking what’s going on, what’s up, what support do you need?”

Codman Square Farmers Market (20 Wainwright Street, Dr. Loesch Family Park)
July 20 – Oct. 19. Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Codman Square Farmers Market has a new location this year while its old spot, Codman Square Park, undergoes renovations, said Catherine Charles, the market’s manager.

A unique factor of the Codman Square market is the fact that many of its booths are staffed by teenage volunteers from the BOLD Teens group.

“They really help to make the market what it is,” Charles said. “We’ve got a nice group of about seven teens that help to set up and talk to the customers. They do surveys to check with community needs. They’re really important.”

Like the Ashmont Friday Market, the Codman Square market will have a weekly theme that festivities will amplify. For example, in August, the market will have a back-to-school backpack giveaway and celebrate health centers with massages, blood pressure testing, and free food. Additionally, there will be a patio seating area throughout the season in partnership with House of Seven Café.

Charles said this market will help people in the neighborhood access healthy food. “We don’t have much access to fresh fruits and vegetables. There are a lot of bodegas and corner stores,” Charles said. “We want to make sure that that’s right here, that people don’t have to drive miles away and go out of the community to find fresh quality foods.”

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