NORTH CONWAY — Farmers markets in the White Mountains have opened their “doors” for the growing season, bringing residents and visitors together much like the market squares of old.
It’s not just the great food — from grass-fed beef to freshly picked greens — that attracts crowds, but the chance to catch up with neighbors and friends.
The North Conway Farmers’ Market is the latest addition to the list of successful markets on the eastern side of the White Mountains. Taking place on Sundays at the North Conway Community Center, located at the southern end of Schouler Park, the North Conway village market joins the Tamworth Farmers’ Market and the Local Works Berlin Farmers’ Marketplace in offering local vegetables, meats, cheeses, breads, entertainment and more.
The markets take place on different days of the week — Berlin’s is on Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m., Tamworth’s is on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon, and North Conway’s is Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. — which is convenient for those who have busy schedules.
That’s was the case for Elizabeth Marx of Freedom. Marx had missed the Tamworth market — Freedom’s annual duck race took precedence — and was looking for bread from Sunnyfield Brick Oven Bakery, which has a space in each of the markets.
“I’m on my way to get kale from the Community School,” Marx said.
She’d met up with a friend, Katie DuBois of Freedom, at the North Conway market, which is in its inaugural year, and said that, “half the vendors are friends.”
“We’re locavores,” she said, adding that her husband will only eat meat that he knows the origin of. They grow much of their own vegetables, but supplement the pantry with local produce and products.
Market days are family affairs, and the North Conway market backs up to the center’s playground, a plus for parents who want to catch up with friends and shop at leisure. Marx said her daughter had brought Hula Hoops.At the North Conway market, Sean Kenney and Susannah Boone of Heart Seed Farm in Conway were selling their produce — the green curls of garlic scrapes were going well — while their children, 2-year-old Segja and her brother, 4-year-old Cadence, played — supervised by a family friend, at the North Conway Community Center playground.
Kenney said he and others, like Glen Mitchell of Mountain Gardens Veggies in Jackson, organized the market. Mitchell is an inaugural member of the North Country Farmers Co-op.
“We’re trying to spread the word in agriculture,” he said. “We want more farmers.”
The aim is to help more farmers get up and running. The idea, Kenny said, is to give newer farmers an outlet. Applications are still being accepted.
“It’s going well,” he commented.“ We’re excited to see the community come out and support us.”
In Tamworth on Saturday, Dennis Chesley of the New Hampshire Mushrooms Company held court as he educated customers on the basics of the business. The small business grows mushrooms in a 5,000 square foot building in Tamworth, producing 1,000 pounds of mushrooms a week. The goal, Chesley said, is 4,000.
Chesley and his partners wholesale the mushrooms in the Boston market, but still has time for smaller sales.
Don Maclean of Georgetown, Mass., bought a pound of the Elm Oysters, saying, “With a piece of venison, there’s nothing like them,” adding that if he’s granted a last meal, that would be it. The oyster mushrooms, he said, are “highly cherished.”
Peg Loughran of Sunnyfield said that the market attracts about 25 vendors, plus music.
For more information about locations of farmers markets across the state, go to nhfma.org.