There’s been plenty of talk lately about maintaining the “rural lifestyles” of our communities. And while population density may be on the rise, one of the hallmarks of a rural community and of the New Hampshire countryside – local farmstands and farmers’ markets – is thriving in our area. In recent years, farmers’ markets have sprung up in the downtown heart of big cities. We can find them there in Portsmouth and Manchester, and that’s a boon to residents who want fresh, local fruits and vegetables and either don’t have enough land to grow their own or can’t get into the countryside to buy them at the source.
But we don’t have to worry about that. Our communities are close to the source – indeed, they are the source in many cases – and you can’t get more local when it comes to food than we are. Derry has a thriving farmers market, both winter and summer, and while it will be leaving the sponsorship of the Town of Derry next year after the Town Council cut funding, it doesn’t plan to cease operations.
There’s something particularly satisfying about residents getting together for a couple of hours a week to shop outdoors. It’s not certain what you will find. Flowers? Homemade soap? Organic dog biscuits? Maple syrup? The Norman Rockwell-esque homemade lemonade stand? All that plus whatever fruits and vegetables are in season that week.
Meanwhile, farmers in Derry, Londonderry and Hampstead offer traditional farmstands as well, where their agricultural bounty is available for residents and tourists alike every day, right at the farm where it’s grown, and often with a U-pick option.
Local products and local people come together at all of these ventures, turning shopping for food into a time to visit with friends, maybe find a couple of new recipes, learn about fruits and vegetables that aren’t so common, and get healthier in the process.
And if you like supporting your neighbors and keeping your dollars local, farmstands and farmers markets are an ideal way to patronize small businesses and strengthen the local economy, cutting out the middle man in the process.
The farmstands and farmers’ markets hark back to the market days of past centuries, when area residents would come to town to do their weekly shopping and visit with their neighbors. Living where we do, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel to find community and good eating close to home.