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Farmers' market hits Main Street running



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Even the young entrepreneurs were getting into the action on Thursday; Tristan Robertson squeezes out fresh lemonade. (Photo by Erik Eisele) (click for larger version)
July 07, 2010
BERLIN — If you weren't on Mechanic Street between 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. last Thursday you probably didn't get any produce from the first Berlin farmers' market.

"We were packed for the first half hour," said Marilinne Cooper, executive director of the Women's Rural Entrepreneurial Network, based in Bethlehem, which organized the market.

By 4:15 the last loaves of bread were going, but there were still sweets, drinks, crafts and live performers.

People swarmed the fresh vegetables and produce vendors at the start, Ms. Cooper said, despite poor weather. "It's rained 15 times since we started."

The market had been open for an hour and half.

It was as much an event for socializing as a market, with people waving, saying hello and smiling.

Mechanic Street, if you aren't familiar with it by name, would be easy to miss. It's runs between Main Street and Pleasant Street next to Northway Bank. But on Thursdays now it will be far more conspicuous, as market days continue until September 16.

Vendors lined both sides of the street under tents donated by Public Service of New Hampshire, selling pumpkin whoopie pies and limeade.

"Everybody's talking about it," said Laura Jamison, the coordinator for the farmers' market. "I have a lot of people waiting to see how it goes."

By all accounts, it went well. Vendors were running out of supplies, parking on both sides was tight, and at least one business said they had seen an uptick in traffic, and even additional sales, in the past few hours.

There were hiccups, however. People need to park on Main Street or in the municipal lot on Pleasant Street, Ms. Jamison said, not in the bank parking area. "Northway Bank is so generous to let us use the lot" next to the building, she said, they don't want to create any disruption for customers.

But otherwise all reports were positive. Fiddler Patrick Ross and local band Calico Slim provided live entertainment, which Ms. Jamison said will be a regular feature at the market, thanks to Woodlands Credit Union.

Opening day featured 24 vendors, she said, but there is certainly space for more.

Some vendors are set up to take vouchers from the farmers' market nutrition program, WIC and other benefits, she said, so all are welcome to shop healthy products, all made within 100 miles of Berlin.

WREN thanked PSNH, Isaacson Structural Steel, Northway Bank, Woodlands Credit Union, the Berlin Main Street Program, the Coos County Botanical Garden Club and the city of Berlin for their help in making the market a success.

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