(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2012)
Residents packed the Great Hall in Codman Square on Sunday for their chance to see the bountiful selection of produce, meats and homemade goods at the city’s first ever Winter Farmer’s Market.
The market, the brainchild of a group of Dorchester residents, was such a hit that vendors sold out before the event ended.
“This is so exciting,” said Yolanda Darnell, who was selling baked goods with her Dorchester-based company, Good Measure Bakery. “I’m very surprised by the turnout. We sold out of everything by 1:15 p.m. I’m going to make sure to be here every weekend, with twice the amount.”
Mayor Thomas M. Menino said the market was a nice complement to the city's many summer markets.
“We’ve been on the forefront of farmer’s markets,” said Menino, who cut the ribbon and picked up some grass-fed beef. “We hope to expand this throughout the city…and continue to promote it.”
Many on the side of the city were excited to see Boston host a winter market, something Cambridge and Somerville have been doing for year. But it was the customers who seemed the most excited to pick up good fresh produce right in their neighborhood.
“I think this is a great idea,” said Kit Binns, a 64-year-old technical writer from Dorchester, as he purchased Gouda cheese from the Foxboro Cheese Company. “This is especially helpful during the winter.”
Anne Stein, a 46-year-old real estate agent and Dorchester resident, also expressed excitement over a market close to her home that offers organic, locally grown produce.
“Anything that brings a new experience to the neighborhood is always welcome,” said Stein. “We’re a neighborhood that would love to have a Whole Foods. Finding good, organic food is few and far between.”
Organizers expressed happiness at seeing their hard work pay off.
“The success is so rewarding and it really shows how hungry our community is for healthy foods,” said Jenny Silverman, the project manager for the market. “There are a number of different things we were trying to accomplish with this market: provide easy access to healthy food, support the local economym, and create a gathering space for the community to meet.”
Local elected officials were also present to sample to the products, cut the ribbon and pick up a few ingredients for dinner.
“Clearly the community answered the question if we should have a winter farmer’s market,” said Representative Russell Holmes. “The community has shown that it wants this and I hope we can expand it to Saturday as well.”
District 4 City Councilor Charles Yancey also expressed excitement for his constituents getting better access to healthy food.
“There has always been a market for farmer’s markets in this area. I think this is definitely a step in the right direction for the city,” Yancey said.
That step in the right direction Yancey is referring to, is the city’s push to bring healthy food options to neighborhoods.
“This is a true community farmer’s market,” said Edith Murnane, who was named the city’s first ever food policy director in 2010. “It’s all about creating an environment where healthy, vibrant food is available all year round.”
Along with a push for more farmer’s markets and the city’sBounty Bucks program, which allows residents using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to double their money when they use their SNAP benefits at farmer’s markets, the city is also pushing for its urban agriculture program to take hold in some of the city’s neighborhoods.
The program, which is currently in the works, will look at ways to establish farms in urban centers around the city, to not only create an economical boost to the neighborhood but to also create more access to healthy foods.
Currently the city has been working on a pilot urban agricultural program which will set up the city’s first urban farms in Dorchester. The program received a boost in November when the Boston Zoning Commission approved the amendments to the zoning code to allow for urban farms on select city-owned property in Dorchester.
Although the program has many supporters in Dorchester and the rest of the city, the program has not been expanded past the pilot phase. However the city’s first Urban Agriculture Working Group, which was formed in early January, will hold its first vision meeting Jan. 30 to look at ways to expand the program across the city.
Even with the great success of the Winter Farmer’s Market, the city and community food advocates still have a lot of work ahead of them, but many were just excited to sit back and enjoy the fruits and veggies of their labor.
“There’s a lot of excitement around this new market and we hope it catches on,” said Silverman.
The Winter Farmer’s Market in Codman Square will run every Sunday from 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. until March.