It is the teens who do the heavy lifting—both literally and metaphorically—every Saturday morning at the Ashland Farmers Market (AFM). Teens are the backbone of the market and are much appreciated by both market organizers and vendors.
Ashland Healthy Harvest (the organization that oversees the farmers’ market) Board of Directors member Eric Brooks is the Teen Coordinator, and has great rapport with them. Because of “Mr. Brooks,” AFM has had reliably large numbers of Ashland High School (AHS) students all season. From a pool of about 50 student volunteers, the average number of students at the market is 18 each week, and about a dozen come every week. On August 27, AFM had 26 teen volunteers.
“The Board of Directors’ goal has been to provide a safe and welcoming place for these awesome young people to come and contribute their time and talents to their community. And I believe we have been successful in doing that,” Brooks said. “While the teens get high school community service credits for volunteering, I think if you ask them, they would tell you they don’t keep coming back for the credits, they keep coming back because they just plain love it.”
Volunteering Leads to Paid Work
The market has given many of the students the opportunity to grow, and volunteering at the market has opened doors for work opportunities for some of the teens. This season, Summer Marmash got a part time job working for Julie Gross in her bakery. Olivia Francis worked at Upswing Farm both in the field and at the retail stand as well as at AFM. Kate Twomey worked at Sunshine Farm at their stand in Sherborn and as a vendor at AFM. Eva Bruklich loved the opportunity to be an AFM co-market manager twice this year. Mike Fedorchak runs the music stage sound with AFM board member Steve Mitchell.
Marmash said of her experience, “After one market, Eric said that Julie’s Z Breads needed some help during two weeks in the summer, and I immediately was interested as I was having trouble finding a first job. Julie was patient with me as I learned the ropes and showed me what it’s like to run your own business. She started her own business out of her kitchen and now she is expanding with her new store front in downtown Ashland. It was a great first job and learning experience, and I have the farmers’ market to thank.”
“One of the things I enjoy most at the farmers market is meeting new people,” Bruklich said. “I get an amazing opportunity to do so as a market manager because many people come to ask questions about the market or take advantage of our SNAP program. I also love how the volunteers are able to connect with the vendors. Helping them set up, break down, help run their stands and going from stand to stand talking to them really creates a connection between us. I look forward to the market every week and I wouldn’t spend the first six hours of my Saturday’s anywhere else!”
“[This summer] I ran the sound booth along with help from some of my fellow volunteers and under the guidance of Steve Mitchell,” Fedorchak explained. “Every Saturday morning at 7:30, I would set up the sound booth with the help of [student volunteer] Nick Fetherston and Steve. At around 10, Nick and I would do a sound check with that day’s artist and from there we would be on standby if something went wrong. At around 12:45, we would take down the sound booth and pack it up for next week. Throughout the season, I get to work with local musicians, which is both fun and educational.”
Fall Market Highlights
AFM is held each Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Oct. 8 at 125 Front St., on the grass across from the library. The Pre-Thanksgiving market will be held on Nov. 19, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Ashland Middle School Cafeteria. For more information, visit www.AshlandFarmersMarket.org.
October 1: Make leaf rubbings at the Kid’s Corner, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Brookline A Capella will perform a free concert, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Keeping miles of reclaimed videotape out of our landfills and employing people with disabilities, the Social Catalysts Charitable Foundation brings unique handbags, tote bags and other items hand-woven of reclaimed videotape. At the Community Tent, Cradles to Crayons will collect items for distribution to low-income kids, birth to 12 years old.
October 8, Pumpkin Painting Party: Last chance this season to stock up on your favorite foods and crafts at the outdoor market. Mike Caruso returns to perform at the Arts! Ashland Alliance Music Stage from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. An annual tradition, free pumpkins and paint will be available for all children attending the market between 9 a.m. and noon. All needed materials will be provided along with smocks to help protect clothing. Be aware that non-washable paints are used.
November 19, Pre-Thanksgiving Market: Shoppers can stock up on foods and traditional delicacies from 25 food vendors for their Thanksgiving table. In addition, artisans will make finding the perfect gift just a little bit easier with stocking stuffers, winter accessories and holiday-themed specials. Gift certificates for AFM will also be available from the market managers’ table.