(Title Photo: Shelley Vincent)
If you're looking for healthy meal options, local crafts, and entertainment, the Cape Ann Farmer's Market, now in its 9th year, is the place to go. One of the larger in the area, it boasts 72 vendors. The market runs weekly on Thursdays from 3:00 - 630 PM at Stage Fort Park from late June through mid-October. There is ample, free parking with easy access to the market.
True to its name, there is plenty of fresh produce to be had from vendors like Alprilla Farm in Essex, Marshall's Farm Stand, or Farmer Dave's in Dracut. Prices are quote reasonable across the board, and during the height of summer, the fruits and vegetables look and taste amazing. There are local meat options at the market as well, from Trupiano's sausage, Sasquatch Smokehouse and Cape Ann Fresh Catch.
The market's specialty food selection tends to rotate a bit weekly and annually, but there is always something fresh and tasty to pick up on your trip. Local honey is available from Tomten Beeworks, there is fresh salsa from In Good Taste, as well as fresh bread from A&J King out of Salem. And to pair with it? Cider from local brewery Far from the Tree!
If you're looking to eat before you get home with your vegetables, the market has several prepared food vendors like Classic Cooks, who serve a delightfully creamy mac and cheese, Markouk Bread, whose flatbreads with cheese and meat toppings are made right on location, and Mojo Coffee, if you've got a case of late-afternoon drowsiness.
Craft vendors like Salty Yarn, Camilla MacFayden, Rusty and Ingrid, and Gloucester Soaps provide a great home goods section of the market. There is a broad spectrum of locally made art, tea towels, jewelry, and more.
A long-time staple of the CAFM is the Cape Ann Time Bank. The time bank is program that lets you help others in exchange for a future act of help from another - say, taking an elder grocery shopping, and then receiving an hour of babysitting. They are always looking for new participants, so if it sounds like it could benefit you, be sure to check out the booth!
The market also features a rotating, free booth for non-profits and community programs to set up an informational stand. Local charities like Pathways for Children, Ocean Alliance, and Essex County Greenbelt have brochures and sometimes activities for children.
One of the wonderful positives of the market is that the information booth also walks EBT customers through using their benefits to buy locally grown and healthy foods. It's a win for not only the families receiving SNAP benefits, but also the local farmers who see increased sales through the program.
The Cape Ann Farmer's Market continues to grow in popularity and size yearly, and it's not hard to see why - it brings together an entire community, provides fresh, healthy, and reasonably prices foods, and lets local craftsmen sell to local buyers - keeping dollars in our community. It's a win-win!