Every Thursday, Nancy Edson loads up her van full of homegrown vegetables, fruits and flowers and makes way to the Castleton Farmers Market. The inside of her van is filled with cherry tomatoes, big tomatoes, radishes, green beans, broccoli, cucumbers, Macintosh apples, summer squash, green peppers, yellow peppers and even peppers that are red.
When she arrives, she sets up her tent and three tables and then begins to unload all of her items out of her van for display. One by one, Edson neatly places the produce next to each other. Apples next to the broccoli, beans with the squash, and the colorful peppers cuddled up next to the tomatoes.
“My husband grows it all. He goes out and harvests it, brings it in, washes it all off, sorts it all out, so it’s all ready in time for the Farmers Markets. He has been working outside all summer through this 90-degree heat putting up a high tunnel. With this high tunnel, you can grow a month sooner, and later, in the growing seasons,” Edson explained.
Edson and her husband, Alfred, have been venders at the Castleton Farmers Market for almost four years now. Their farm, “Sunset Hill Farms” is located on Route 74 in West Cornwall, Vt. They have been selling fresh produce, handpicked, since October of 2007. When they’re not busy in the garden, Nancy and Alfred get their produce ready for the four farmers markets they attend during the week.
“Wednesday, Middlebury, Thursday, here at Castleton, Friday I’m in Brandon, and then Saturday, it’s back to Middlebury,” Edson said.
Castleton Farmers Market has been in the center of town for seven years. Every Thursday between 3:30 and 6 p.m., local foods, crafts, and even tie-dye clothing are put on display for purchase. About 20 different venders, some old, some new, register to sell local goods to Castleton residents between the months of June and October. Venders bring all sorts of items to sell. Tents are filled with goodies including fruits, maple syrup, homemade bread, vegetables, flowers, canned goods, jams and jellies.
Lori Baker has been attending these farmers markets since they started. The first year, Baker, was just another vender in the market, but by the time the second one rolled around, she found herself organizing the whole event. Although she has been involved with other farmers markets and around the area, organizing one brings different challenges.
“I got roped into it, but I don’t mind. At first I was a little afraid to do it, you know, managing this and getting the venders and dealing with all the people. It’s stressful,” Baker said. “But it’s still good. Sometimes we battle with weather but nothing you can control.”
Although she stays busy keeping it all organized, Baker can been found hidden behind her mound of jars filled with different jams, jellies and other canned foods such as dilly carrots and pickled onions. All the jars of jams and jellies are lined up next to one another; each one so beautifully colored when hit by the sun.
Next to Baker’s tent, is Good Vibes Tie-Dye. Owned by Jes Bryant, Good Vibes brings a whole new flavor to the market with its colorful t-shirts, socks, tapestries, and onesies for babies. Almost like fingerprints, each item of clothing has a different pattern making each one unique.
“I have seen people bring tie-dye clothing to sell at farmers markets back home in New Hampshire, but it wasn’t as good quality as the ones here. I don’t own any tye-dye items, but I could for sure use a tapestry in my dorm room,” said Junior Aminah Orogi
Other students just enjoy the wide variety in products you can buy from the farmers market. It not only helps drive local business, but also brings fresh foods and creative items to the residents within a friendly atmosphere.
“I think it’s cool. We never had anything like this back home in Cleveland,” said senior Mike Ruggiero. “I haven’t gone much, but many of my friends have been starting to go there more often, and they have nothing but good things to say about it. They always talk about Rays of Sunshine’s bread and all of the real Vermont maple syrup.”
Brooke Naylor, a junior at Castleton University, said one of her most memorable dinners with her boyfriend consisted of foods purchased at the farmers market.
“Not only was it the best dinner because of the quality and taste of the food, but also because of the experience. Going to a farmers market and picking out your own vegetables makes your meal that much more meaningful. Seeing what you’re able to create with simple foods from local farmers is better than anything you’re going to come up with from the grocery store,” Naylor said.