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Farmers market could be ‘cornerstone’ for revitalizing Framingham's downtown

Posted by John Swinconeck  June 4, 2013 04:08 PM

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John Swinconeck for Your Town
Matt Hanson of Hanson's Farm stands behind a peck of potted pepper plants at the Framingham Farmers Market on Tuesday.

FRAMINGHAM — About a dozen vendors set up shop Tuesday near the intersection of Park and Concord streets, where the flow of traffic seemed never ending and the wail of a horn from a CSX locomotive or commuter engine was never far off.

Crafts, snacks, and fresh greens were for sale under a blue sky, but proponents of downtown Framingham’s economic health are hoping the market will bring another kind of green to the area.

They believe the downtown farmer’s market will encourage patronage of the downtown while getting more to shop local.

The market will be open every Tuesday from noon to 5 p.m. The market is in addition to one held every Thursday at Centre Common on Edgell Road.

Framingham Farmers Market Manager Jackie Meninno said the market was about half the size of the one held Thursday, and was opened at behest of Framingham Downtown Renaissance, Inc., a non-profit corporation whose goal is to make downtown Framingham more vibrant.

“We’re hoping to promote business in the downtown,” said the group's executive director, Holli Andrews.

Andrews said she was looking for an attraction to draw people from outlying neighborhoods into downtown Framingham, and a farmers market seemed to fit the bill. “Why not be part of [the downtown’s] comeback, and be part of the cornerstone?” she said.

“We have a vision,” said Framingham Town Manager Robert Halpin, “where the market is a destination, where a commuter gets off the train at the end of the day and walks a couple of blocks to shop at the market before driving home.”

EveryBody Traveling Massage owner Wil Clapper, who had set up his massage chair in the market, said the market is an opportunity to promote the downtown in a day and age when many businesses were losing customers to malls and big box stores.

“I’m a big advocate of shopping locally, and so it’s good to see a farmers market in Framingham,” Clapper said. “Framingham is in a unique position. It’s midway between Boston and Worcester. It’s got potential as an economic engine. … I predict we will see a lot more local pride. A sense that ’we can do it’ in Framingham.”

Hanson’s Farm has been in a working Framingham farm for nearly 300 years. Fifth generation Hanson farmer Matt Hanson said consumers looking for fresh goods will benefit from the downtown market. “We come to you,” he said. “We make it easier to get our product. It provides variety, and it’s a lot nicer than the supermarket.”

Laura Weinstein — also known as the “Cookie Lady,” a nickname for which she’s named her Maynard business — said she sets up shop at farmers markets four days a week to help sell some of the 40 varieties of cookies she bakes. The markets, she said, are very important to her business.

“Everyone knows you,” she said. “It’s a good combination of marketing and income.”

Right next to Next to Cookie Lady Treats was the owner and operator of The Fish Lady, a.k.a. Terri Kanieff, who sells fish she said are caught fresh that morning through the Globe Fish Co. in Boston. The market, she said, “is a cool thing to be part of.”

“It brings in business, it helps start-ups, and you’re outside,” she said.

Contact John Swinconeck at Follow @johnswinc on Twitter.

John Swinconeck for Your Town
Wil Clapper demonstrates a massage with Alex Leemon of Sheldonville Soapworks at Tuesday's farmers market in downtown Framingham.

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