Veggies, Meat & Fish, Baked Goods, Cider, And Music In Derby Square
By J. Smithfield Oppenheimer III
Tradition dies hard in Salem, and the Salem Farmer’s Market proves that every Thursday during the summer months.
History dates the first formal market in Salem back to 1634. Fresh game and locally grown vegetables and grains were probably the most common goods purveyed, but some kind of cider or beer would also have likely been available.
Salem’s public market endured into the 1970’s, some of you may remember the stalls and carts located on the asphalt surface of the old Marketplace and Derby Square. Then came the sudden death of downtown Salem and the Farmer’s Market concept seemed to die with it.
That death, however was not a real death. It was a sleep of recovery and recuperation. The idea and the desire remained, it just needed the right situation to develop for a re-birth. There were a few false starts here and there. I can think of two attempts in the 1990’s and one somewhere around 2001. Salem wasn’t ready yet, the downtown population was growing, but it had not yet reached the proper level to support such a venture.
Times have changed and the amount of people living in the immediate downtown area has grown, and continues to grow. The “downtown” itself is growing as it has claimed bordering blocks that once were not seen as a traditional part of the business district.
The Salem Farmer’s Market now dominates Thursday afternoons and evenings every week beginning from early June into mid-October. There is also a smaller winter market that is run out of Old Town Hall in December.
Seven farms are represented among the vendors to include Salem’s own Maitland Mountain Farm. The Maitland family are locals who work hard not only growing vegetables, greens, and flowers, but they also create and sell some great pickled products. The pickles are wonderful and they also make a very nice kimchi. Long Hill Orchards out of West Newbury, Wally’s Vegetables from Haverhill, and Clark Farm from Danvers are also current vendors.
Fresh Seafood from Rowand’s Fisheries, Pasta and sauces from Valicenti Pasta Farm, Baked goods from Jodi Bee Bakes and Grammy’s Bakery, both of Salem serve are available. Jodi Bee offers some gluten-free and vegan selections. Milk & Honey, also a Salem store offers cheeses and meats.
Cider from Far From The Tree, hand-made jewelry, and bed & bath products are there for your consideration.
Every week there are different musical acts featured, and of course you never know when you may run into a local celebrity, politician, or maybe an old friend.
This is a volunteer dependent event overseen by the irrepressible and indefatigable Salem Main Street’s Director, a dynamo we all know as Kylie Sullivan. She is on the spot everywhere there is activity, and is usually right in the middle of it. Say hello if you see her, but be careful or she just may find something for you to do with your time.
If you haven’t been to the Salem Farmer’s Market this year, we suggest that you pull yourself away from whatever your Thursday afternoon involves and get yourself to Derby Square.
See you there.