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Community-Craved Farmers Market Arrives

From the Farm to NoMa: Local Produce, Meats on Display

It’s not every day that you find fresh local fruits, veggies, cheeses and meats amid the high-rise office buildings and fast food restaurants of the business-heavy North of Massachusetts Avenue neighborhood.

Now, it’s Wednesdays.

The neighborhood, usually referred to as NoMa, opened its first farmers market earlier this month. The market takes place on a sidewalk plaza in front of the CVS at First and M streets Northeast. It will run Wednesdays from 3 to 7 p.m. through Oct. 26.

Organized by the NoMa Business Improvement District and managed by Metro Green Markets, the small market offers goods from eight vendors, though a handful more may be added in the coming months. Various chef demonstrations and tastings have also been planned for the summer and fall.

“Farmers markets have become an integral part of city living,” said Liz Price, president of the NoMa BID. “Being able to get fresh produce at an affordable price — I think it’s going to add a whole other dimension to this neighborhood. It’s a real amenity for the people who work here and the people that live here.”

The vendors sell certified organic meats, charcuterie, goat cheeses, fresh seasonal fruits, baked goods and jams. Everything the farmers sell at their stalls is locally grown and produced.

“It’s a producers-only market,” said Donne Malloy, who manages the market for Metro Green Markets. “There’s no retailing. Everything is in season, and you have to grow what you sell, all the way down.”

NoMa’s new market was launched in response to several community surveys in which residents said they most wanted a neighborhood farmers market. So far, community response has been very positive, according to Price and Malloy.
“I think it’s great,” said Elissa Silverman, who works in the neighborhood at CNN and visited the market recently. “It’s a great asset. I just left my office and I’m coming here to pick up a couple things. I hope it grows. I hope it becomes more successful.”

Price and Malloy have high hopes that the market will continue to thrive as more residents move into NoMa. They planned the market for Wednesdays to encourage the community to buy picnic supplies before watching free movies in a nearby park as part of NoMa BID’s Summer Screen initiative.

“We really want First Street to become the hub of the neighborhood,” Price said. “Bringing a farmers market here is a key part of that.”

The market has launched without a hitch, Malloy said. Still, the vendors noted the small turnout, citing the heat and the market’s novelty.

“It’s pretty preliminary to say very much, other than that we made it, we’re here and the customers showed up. Most seemed not to know that there was in fact a market,” said Jamie Stachowski of Stachowski Brand Charcuterie.

Malloy is confident that consumers will come in time.

“I think it’s going to be word of mouth, and we’ve done a lot of advertising,” she said. “For instance, on Wednesday a lot of people came but went home because it was 100 degrees outside. You learn to deal with the weather. … The farmers pick in the rain and in the heat — and you can go shopping. The weather shouldn’t matter.”

Even in the heat, most of the vendors were happy to start selling in a new location.

“It’s always a good day in the market,” Stachowski said.

Correction: June 22, 2011

An earlier version of this article misstated the date of the first farmers market. It took place June 8.

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