WESTFiELD-Applications are now available for vendors who wish to participate in the 2021 Westfield Farmers’ Market that has a tentative opening date of June 3.
“The six of us on the management team have been focused on planning activities, generating interest from new and existing vendors, preparing the vendor application and the market rules and regulations for 2021,” said Mary Kadomoto, market manager.
Kadomoto is being assisted this season by team members Joy Bunnell, Carol Caldwell Kelley, Donna Tatlock, Bern Toomey and Lisa Zlody.
“Vendor applications were emailed Feb. 8 to all 2020 and 2019 vendors as well as new vendors who have expressed interest,” said Kadomoto, adding persons interested in participating in the market can send an email to [email protected] to request an application.
Kadomoto said she is grateful for the extra time she has had with former market manager Debbie Randzio over the past few months as she continues to learn all of the intricacies of the market.
“It was helpful to have a few more conversations with her as I started to get into the planning and the details,” said Kadomoto. “She’s been very generous with her time.”
As part of Kadomoto’s ongoing efforts to stay abreast of all market processes, she has joined a group of state farmers’ market managers who share best practices and keep market managers up-to-date on key issues including COVID-19 protocols.
“The next critical steps in the February/March timeframe are to review the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources (MDAR) guidelines for health and safety processes related to COVID-19,” said Kadomoto.
Based on those guidelines, the management team will develop an opening plan and seek approval from the Westfield Board of Health prior to the market opening.
“We expect many of the processes to be similar to those in place in 2020,” said Kadomoto. “Once we obtain approval, all vendors and volunteers will be trained on the processes.”
For area residents who would like to become involved with the market as a volunteer, a variety of roles are available, from setting up the market tents, tables and chairs, greeting customers, answering questions and processing SNAP transactions, to monitoring social distancing protocols and taking down the market at the end of the day.
Volunteers are also needed for photography, signage, communications and publicity, including the weekly market newsletter.
“If anyone is interested in volunteering, please email me,” said Kadomoto.
With less than four months to go before the proposed opening day, Kadomoto and her team are bullish on prospects for this market season.
“We had a fantastic market in 2020, despite our late opening and a smaller number of vendors because of the pandemic,” said Kadomoto. “We opened for 10 weeks, with safety protocols such as masks and physical distancing.”
Kadomoto said having the front lawn of the Episcopal Church of the Atonement at 36 Court St. allows for appropriate social distancing guidelines. The team is hopeful to be open for 20 weeks this year.
“We averaged 420 customers during each weekly five-hour market,” said Kadomoto. “Top of mind for 2021 is our desire to ensure everyone’s health and safety.”
The market is expected to be conducted rain or shine every Thursday from 12-5 p.m. through Oct. 14.
“The mission of the market continues to be to promote local agriculture and to provide fresh, healthy and affordable food to the people of Westfield and the surrounding communities,” said Kadomoto.
There are also several craft vendor openings who provide a variety of handmade items.
Levels of participation for vendors range from full-time, part-time and visiting options, to spaces for commercial businesses and nonprofit organizations. Each reserved space is 10’ x 10’.
“We hope that we can attract more vendors to provide lots of choices for customers and a vibrant and enjoyable market,” said Kadomoto.
For more details on the latest market news, visit www.westfieldfarmersmarket.org or leave a message at (413) 562-5461, ext. 101.