Vegetables, just picked from the garden, can be as colorful and as totally seductive to the eye as a bouquet of flowers, and bring joy to the palate as well. Such vegetables will abound at the Agricultural Hall grounds in West Tisbury on Saturday morning when the first session of the revived Farmers’ Market is held.
Beets and carrots, peas and beans, broccoli and squash and a dozen varieties of lettuce will be on hand at the market along with eggs, and home-baked goods and preserves. A happy hunting ground indeed for the gourmet.
This revival of the Farmers’ Market is being organized by Miss Susan Whiting, with the assistance of several interested people. Because of the high price of produce in the stores, there has been a resurgence of interest in vegetable gardening. The home garden often produces a surplus and the Farmers’ Market will be a central outlet for such surpluses and give those without a garden the chance to have vegetables as fresh as if they did. Miss Whiting sent out invitations to participate to about 50 likely people.
Anyone can bring produce as long as it is Island grown or Island made. The fee for the day is $1 per person, and the money will be used to cover the cost of mailing, advertising and licensing. Each person must be responsible for his own stand, whether it is the back of a truck or a card table or what have you. Each person must be responsible for his own scales for weighing produce and for cleaning up afterwards. Each person will also set his own prices, though a list of suggested prices from the Farmer’s Bulletin will be posted.
“Remember that fresh produce is a luxury item,” says Miss Whiting, “and price your things accordingly.”
The Vineyard Conservation Society has volunteered to act as a clearing house of information about the market.
The success of the market will depend on the degree of participa­tion, Miss Whiting said, and on the volume and variety of the proffered goods. At present the plan is to hold the market every Saturday but if enough interest is shown, a second market day, probably Tuesday, will be established.
The original Farmers’ Market was organized in 1934 as a measure to help the local people during the de­pression. Mrs. Argie Humphreys, Mrs. Orland Davis, Mrs. Daniel Manter and Miss Hilda Austin were the founders. The market was held two days a week and there were 22 booths operating inside the hall. Baked goods, chowder, beans, etc. were sold along with the vegetables. There was also a handicraft booth, where hooked and braided rugs were sold on commission, and cro­cheted and knitted things could be bought. Miss Whiting felt that to­day on the Island there are so many other outlets for crafted things that it was unnecessary to include them in the market.
The original Farmers’ Market was disbanded in 1941. It was a casualty of both the gas and sugar ration­ing that occurred during the second World War. The last president of the market was Argie Humphreys, whose tenure was from 1939 to 1941, and it was the Farmers’ Market that started him on his career as a baker. When the market closed, he bought what was then Our Own Bakery in Vineyard Haven and re-christened it the Vineyard Foodshop. The foodshop remained in Vineyard Haven for seven years before Mr. Humphreys built the new store in North Tisbury. It is interesting to conjecture which bud­ding baker bringing a pie or a loaf of bread to the market next Satur­day may find himself or herself catapulted into becoming in the fu­ture the head of such a thriving business as the Vineyard Foodshop.