DRACUT — The Dracut farmers market kicked off on Saturday, July 16, and will run through Saturday, Aug. 27. The market, which brims with locally grown produce and other items made in Massachusetts, is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday at the Dracut Historical Society, 1660 Lakeview Ave.
Bob Berube, vice chairman of the Dracut Agricultural Commission, is the market manager for the farmers market — a volunteer position. Now retired from construction work, Berube, a farmer and beekeeper, fits his market work in among tending to the honeybees in his beehives, bottling honey, working in the gardens, spending time with family — his wife, Penny, Dracut’s children’s librarian, and his two grown children — or doing other volunteer work.
The Dispatch caught up with him recently as he tended to the bees at his farm on Wheeler Road and later sifted through applications for the farmers market.
Q: How did the market get started?
A: The Agricultural Commission decided that we wanted to try a farmers market, as other towns in the area were having them. This is our fourth year. The first year we had a positive response, and it may have been our best year.
Q: Has the market grown each year?
A: A little, maybe by one vendor, but we lose vendors, too. Some are doing several different markets and they may want to stick with the larger markets. Our rules are very strict. We have no crafts; just Massachusetts grown products or Massachusetts made products. We do have Mrs. Murphy’s soaps, handmade in Dracut;. And this year she is adding jellies and jams that she makes in her certified kitchen. We will not allow any baked goods that are not made in certified kitchens. We also inspect all farms before they are allowed to sell at the market. We purposely keep the rules strict because we don’t want it to turn into a flea market, like farmers markets are out in California.
Q: What are the most popular items sold at the market?
A: For veggies, corn, tomatoes, and salad greens. We have someone who sells flowers by the bunch, and they do very well. I was surprised by that. Later in the season, fruits are popular, too.
Q: People are increasingly aware of the benefits of buying local produce today. Do you see evidence of that at the market?
A: Yes, we get a lot of positive feedback from people about being able to buy locally grown products. It’s a little more expensive (than at the supermarket), so they are coming for the fresh, local produce. Also, I assume they also want to support the local farmers.
Q: What is your favorite part of being the market manager?
A: It keeps me busy. I show up in the morning, and there’s always two or three members of the commission there with me. I just like to give back a little.
I’ve been in Vietnam, and you see what it’s like — how other people live.
It makes you appreciate home a little bit more. People around here don’t always realize what they have.