Plans for new farmers market take root in Windham

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WINDHAM — The town and members of the local agriculture community are trying to grow an interest in a new Windham farmers market. 

The town of Windham hosted two organizational meetings last week for the planned farmers market, which will be sponsored this year by the Windham Economic Development Corporation. 

“We’re looking for farmers and craftspeople and food products folks – local folks – to join us,” WEDC Executive Director Tom Bartell told the council last week. 

According to minutes from last week’s planning sessions, the farmers market will be held on land at the end of Turning Leaf Drive, which is off Route 302 near the River Road intersection. 

The weekly market will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through November, with opening day scheduled for May 26 during Memorial Day weekend. 

Harriet Thoms, who owns Mountain View Farm in Harrison and grew up in Windham, said she plans to give the Windham market a try this summer and see how business goes. 

Thoms, who markets beef, pork, chicken, eggs and raw milk, said she already participates in the Harrison and Norway farmers markets.  

According to Thoms, some of the keys to a successful market are visibility from the road, a good group of vendors, and well-placed signage and publicity. 

She said the Windham market’s success “depends on how many people they get to commit.”

As of Tuesday, Bartell said “a number of farmers/vendors” have expressed interest and the WEDC will be working in the next few weeks to have people sign up and commit to the market. Those interested can contact Lisa Fisher at 894-5900, ext. 6122, or lmfisher@windhammaine.us. 

One of the farmers willing to give it a try is Frank Pecoraro, who owns Mulberry Farms in Raymond with his wife Debbie. 

“These areas could use a good farmers market,” Pecoraro said about Lakes Region towns and other nearby communities. “It becomes a little bit of an event when it’s done right.”

While Pecoraro said the details for this farmers market may be coming together somewhat late in the game for this season, he hopes it will be able to draw both farmers and customers. 

Pecoraro said farmers often work about 80 hours a week this time of year, and dedicating four to six hours to a farmers market “is not a simple proposition.”

The Pecoraros grow about 45 different fruits and vegetables at their farm, including strawberries, asparagus, lettuce, spinach, cucumbers and tomatoes. 

Pecoraro said there hadn’t been a huge turnout at the organizational meetings, but is cautiously optimistic nonetheless.  

“We’re willing to wait it out for it to grow to the right size,” he said, noting the market will need some “early wins” to keep people interested. 

“If they start out well, that generates some positive momentum,” Pecoraro added.

Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or mjunker@keepmecurrent.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker. 

Debbie and Mike Pecoraro stand in a hoop house at Mulberry Farms in Raymond. The farm is planning to participate in a new Windham farmers market set to start in late May.  

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