You Can Ring My Bell: Belmont Farmers Market’s Opening Day Thursday, June 7

Photo: The Farmers Market is back for another season.

The Market Day bell will be heard throughout Belmont Center as the Belmont Farmers Market returns for another season on Thursday, June 7 in the Claflin Street Municipal Parking lot. Opening Day events include:

• 1:55 p.m.: Fanfare by Dave Douglas of the Arlington Philharmonic Orchestra.
• 2 p.m.: Ribbon-cutting by Patrice Garvin, Belmont’s Town Administrator and the ringing of the Market bell.
• 3:10 p.m.: Fred Astaire Dance Studio demonstration.
• 4:30 p.m. Irish and Anglo-American folk songs with Lindsay Straw.

Here is a list of this season’s vendors.

Storytime

• 4 p.m.: The Belmont Public Library returns with stories for kids and parents.

Community Table

The Popup library sponsored by the Belmont Public Library. Browse and check out a variety of books.

Belmont Food Pantry

Bring non-perishable items to support the Belmont Food Pantry. Drop them off at the Manager’s Tent.

Location: The municipal parking lot in Belmont Center, at the intersection of Cross Street and Channing Road, behind the now-closed Foodie’s Market on Leonard Street. Get directions at Google Maps.

Getting there The Market is near the MBTA commuter train and the 74 bus stops in Belmont Center. The market also has bicycle parking. Also, observe parking regulations on the street and in the lot.

Dates:  Thursdays, June 7 through October 25.

Hours:  Our hours change after Labor Day because the sun sets earlier:
2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. from June through Labor Day

2 p.m. to 6 p.m. after Labor Day until the end of October

Weather: The market is open rain or shine (but not in violent storms). Events and Storytime may be canceled even if the Market is open; check with the Library on very hot or stormy weather.

Belmont Farmers Market Ready To Park Itself In Belmont Center For 13th Season

Photo: Hal Shubin (left) and Suzanne Johannet of the Belmont Food Collaborative before the Belmont Board of Selectmen.

What a difference two weeks can make.

The last time the leadership of the Belmont Food Collaborative – the group that runs the Belmont Farmers Market – was before the Board of Selectmen on Jan. 22, it was a slightly frosty reception as it comes to secure the board’s OK to bring the market back to Belmont Center for a 13th season.

Suzanne Johannet, collaborative’s president, and Hal Shubin, the chairman of the farmers market, were seated next to Kevin Foley, manager of Locatelli Properties and landlord of many businesses along Leonard Street in Belmont Center. For the second year, Foley came to the board to bring up a continuing sore point of the Farmers Market taking nearly 20 parking spaces in the rear of the Claflin Street Municipal Parking Lot on what he describes as “one of our busiest days of the week.” 

“Before we talk where and when the Farmers Market is located, that we look at this issue carefully each year and look at parking demand and adjust accordingly,” said Foley at the January meeting. In the past, Foley suggested either moving the market to another location away from the center or changing the markets’ operation times and the day it takes place such as Monday, noting that several new businesses have opened in the center with a new restaurant scheduled to arrive this summer.

For the Collaborative, Foley’s continued criticism of the markets’ use of the public lot was baffling. “What do you want, Kevin?” said Johannet, saying that Market customers bring business to his tenants, specifically during the summer when business drags.  

While open to the market returning for its second decade at the site, the Selectmen were “frustrated,” according to member Mark Paolillo, that long-standing agreement for the collaborative and Locatelli to sit down at a meeting “discuss” the parking issue had not taken place for well over a year. Due to the dispute, the Selectmen delayed acting on granting the Collaborative the right to set up shop in the parking lot “until you get together as was promised,” said Paolillo.

Fast forward to Monday, Feb. 5 and the much warmer encounter between the board and collaborative. 

Working with new Town Administrator Patrice Garvin, the Collaborative met with Foley and representatives from the Belmont Center Business Association and as Johannet told the board, it appears the Farmers Market was a lesser concern to Foley than the overriding worry of providing an adequate number of “core parking spaces” for patrons of the center’s retail operators. 

Johannet said Foley had been using the market “as a football” to express his frustrations with the town over the broader issue of parking supply and demand.

Garvin said Foley would like the town to create some “reprieve” for the employees to take pressure off of shoppers and those eating at the center’s restaurants. In an effort to help the business community, the town and market will continue to monitor parking levels and hold ongoing discussions with all sides, said Garvin. 

Despite Foley’s protestations, the Selectmen were solidly in the market’s corner. “The town owns the parking lot, not Kevin Foley,” said Selectmen Chair Jim Williams. In the end, the board voted unanimously to allow the Belmont Farmers Market to use the 19 spaces each Thursday, 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. (6 p.m. in September and October) from June 7 to Oct. 26 to bring fresh produce and locally made goods to residents, to the applause of supporters in the audience.

According to Shubin, the collaborative is reviewing options that would allow the market to avoid being caught between the parking needs of businesses and the town, which could include asking for a multi-year approval.

“We can now get excited about our 13th year,” said Johannet.

Last Of The Summer Harvest At The Belmont Farmers Market

Photo: Belmont Farmers Market.
Apples are king at the Belmont Farmers Market; two months into its harvest and the variety continues to grow, while blueberries and peaches are just about done for the year. But if you need a little bit of summer for your kitchen, tomatoes, cucumbers, and corn continues to be available. 
This is the last week of summer hours – 2 p.m. to 6;30 p.m. – at the market. Starting in September, market days will close at 6 p.m. each Thursday to account for the earlier sunsets.
The Belmont Farmer Market is located in the Claflin Street municipal parking lot at the corner of Cross and Channing behind Belmont Center. 
 
Weekly Vendors
Red’s Best, Stillman Quality Meats, Mamadou’s Artisan Bakery, Dick’s Market Garden, Del Sur Empanadas, Goodies Homemade, Bread Obsession, Hutchins Farm, Freedom Food Farm, Foxboro Cheese Co., Flats Mentor Farm, Nicewicz Family Farm, Brookford Farm
Monthly and Occasional Vendors
Bittersweet Herb Farm, Minuteman Kettle Corn, Pet Wants, Recreo Coffee and Roaster, swissbäkers, Valicenti Pasta Farm. Learn more about our vendors on our website.
Community Table
Green Team: sharing tips for reducing food waste in cafeterias.
Schedule of Events
2 p.m.: Music by Joe Zarro, the coolest pastor in Belmont.
4 p.m.: Story time with the children librarians from the Belmont Public Library. 
4:30 p.m.: Music Together is an internationally recognized program “for children from birth through age seven-and the grownups who love them.” Lenka Zbruz, who directs the Belmont group, says she loves “making music more than anything else.”

Tomatoes, Honey and Yoga At Today’s Farmers Market

Photo: Peaches are in season.
Late August is the perfect time of year at the Belmont Farmers Market open today, Thursday, Aug. 24 from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Claflin Street Municipal parking lot behind Belmont Center. 
Summer produce is very much in season, with an amazing selection of tomatoes, peppers, corn, summer squash, and peaches, and fall produce is just starting to come in. It’s also time to stock up on honey, as this is Tewksbury Honey’s final week at the Market for this year.
 
Weekly Vendors
Red’s Best, Stillman Quality Meats, Mamadou’s Artisan Bakery, Dick’s Market Garden, Del Sur Empanadas, Goodies Homemade, Bread Obsession, Hutchins Farm, Freedom Food Farm, Foxboro Cheese Co., Flats Mentor Farm, Nicewicz Family Farm, Tewksbury Honey (final week), Brookford Farm
Monthly and Occasional Vendors
Deano’s Pasta, Jaju Pierogi, Japonaise Bakery, Recreo Coffee and Roastery, The Warren Farm and Sugarhouse
Community Table
Boston Area Gleaners
Schedule of Events
2 p.m.: Acoustic Breezes – a progressive, guitar-driven band that fuse jazz, folk, rock, and world rhythms with strong, expressive vocals to create a wealth of unique “free-verse” songs.
4 p.m.: Storytime with the librarians from the Children’s Room of the Belmont Public Library.
4:30 p.m.; Artemis Yoga – The Coolidge Square studio will teach a posture exercise to align the body in an optimal standing position and host a plank challenge.

Letter to the Editor: Farmers Market Could Use Your Help

Photo: The Farmers Market
 
The Belmont Farmers’ Market and its parent organization, the Belmont Food Collaborative (BFC), have a food assistance program to help people in need. A big part of that is matching SNAP benefits at the Market (formerly called food stamps).

Each week, we match up to $25 of the amount that a SNAP shopper spends. For example, we’ll debit $20 from a shopper’s account and give $40 to spend on eligible products at the Market. This has been a very popular program, helping many households enjoy healthy, local products – we’ve matched over $12,000 since we started in 2011. 

SNAP matching has grown dramatically this year. So far, we’ve spent twice as much as we budgeted. To continue the program, we have been asking our supporters to help fund our food assistance programs with a donation at the BFC website. They’ve been very generous, allowing us to continue providing this important assistance.
 
This year, the Commonwealth began a new program called Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) for SNAP recipients. When SNAP shoppers buy fruits and vegetables from a participating vendor, the amount is immediately refunded to their account. (There is a monthly maximum, based on household size.) HIP only applies to fruits and vegetables, while SNAP applies to that, plus most of the rest of the products at the Market, such as meat, pasta, eggs, cheese, cookies, bread and more.
 
As one of our shoppers said recently, “Wow! That’s great.” And it is! These programs are a great way to help people eat fresh, local foods and support local agriculture at the same time.
 
Because HIP is new and SNAP has grown in popularity, we’ve written a brief handout to explain how they work at our Market. Volunteers have helped by translating it into Chinese and Russian, and we expect to have an Armenian version soon. Download the SNAP/HIP handouts on our website.
 
Shoppers get SNAP certificates at our Market Manager tent. For the HIP benefit, they can go right to a participating produce vendor. So far, Hutchins Farm is our only HIP vendor, but we expect that the others will be getting their card-swipe terminals from the Commonwealth very soon.
 
Many farmers’ markets match SNAP, but not all do. Boston no longer matches SNAP benefits; they’re encouraging shoppers to use HIP instead. We match state benefits and encourage our vendors to participate in HIP because food assistance is a big part of the mission of the Market’s parent organization, the Belmont Food Collaborative.
Our matching program also includes WIC and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FNMP) certificates. Another part of the BFC’s food assistance program is growing produce to donate to the Belmont Food Pantry (volunteers can help by watering and weeding).
Stop at the Manager’s tent for SNAP coupons, full details and answers to your questions. See you at the Market!
Hal Shubin
Chairperson of the Market Committee,
Belmont Food Collaborative, a 501(c)(3) organization, and the parent organization of the Belmont Farmers’ Market.

Market Day: Early Harvests Coming In; Donations Needed To Help Assistance Program

Photo:
From the fresh greens of June to the colorful produce of July, the harvests are rushing into each other on Market Day in Belmont today.
Come to the Belmont Farmers Market to enjoy the early summer bounty. Strawberries and raspberries are coming in as are eggplant, broccoli and peppers.
The market – open from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. – is located in the Claflin Street municipal parking lot at the corner of Cross and Channing behind Belmont Center. 
 
Learn about the markets’ vendors on its website.
Weekly Vendors:
Red’s Best, Stillman Quality Meats, Mamadou’s Artisan Bakery, Dick’s Market Garden, Del Sur Empanadas, Goodies Homemade, Bread Obsession, Hutchins Farm, Freedom Food Farm, Foxboro Cheese Co., Brookford Farm
 
Monthly and Occasional Vendors:
Minuteman Kettle Corn, Bittersweet Herb Farm, Valicenti Pasta Farm, Garbage to Garden, swissbäkers, Tewksbury Honey.

The Belmont Food Collaborative which runs the weekly Farmers Market is also making an

appeal for food assistance donations. The Market helps shoppers on limited budgets purchase fresh, local food. It matchs up to $25 of SNAP benefits (formerly called food stamps) and match WIC and Senior FMNP coupons as well. 
This market season, demand for SNAP matches has nearly tripled. Please make a tax-deductible donation to fund the Market match so we can continue to help our neighbors in need. You can do so at the market or online.
Also at the market today: 
Community Table
4 p.m.: Selectman Adam Dash will be holding office hours from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
 
Schedule of Events
2 p.m.: Music by traditional folk singer, guitarist, and Irish bouzouki player Lindsay Straw
4 p.m.: Storytime with the librarians from the Belmont Public Library’s Childrens’ room.
4:30 p.m.: Music by jazz guitarist and vocalist Sarah Fard.

Market Day in Belmont Could Include Strawberries, Chenery Musicians on Hand

Photo: Will we find strawberries on Market Day in Belmont.

It’s market day in Belmont and there’s a good chance there will be strawberries for sale. If they are or not, There will be more than 90 minutes of great music by musicians from the Chenery Middle School.

The Belmont Light Department will be answering questions and giving out merchandise at our Community Table and we’ll have performances from Aleisha and the Chenery 7th and 8th music ensembles. As always, come join Storytime for the little ones at 4 p.m.

Belmont’s Farmers Market – open from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. – is located in the Belmont Center Municipal Parking lot behind Leonard Street at the intersection of Cross Street at Channing Road.

Weekly vendors: Bread Obsession*, Brookford Farm*, Del Sur Empandas*, Dick’s Market Garden, El Recreo Coffee*, Foxboro Cheese Co., Goodies Homemade, Hutchins Farm, Mamadou’s Artisan Bakery, Red’s Best, Stillman Quality Meats, Underwood Greenhouses

Occasional vendors here this week: Deano’s Pasta*, El Recreo Coffee*, Gluten Free Me*, Halvah Heaven*, Japonaise Bakery*, Rain barrels (Sustainable Belmont), The Warren Farm and Sugarhouse, Underwood Greenhouses.

* indicates new vendors

In the Events Tent

  • 2 p.m.: The duo “Aleisha.”
  • 4 p.m.: Stories for children about farms, farmers’ markets & home gardens (sample titles) from the librarians from the Belmont Public Library’s Children’s Room.
  • 4:30 p.m.: The 8th-grade chamber orchestra and 8th-grade small wind ensemble from the Chenery Middle School.
  • 5:30 p.m.: The 7th and 8th-grade jazz combos.

Belmont Farmers Market Opens for Season Thursday @ 2 PM

Photo: Open for the season!

The Belmont Farmers Market will open for the 2017 season today, Thursday, May 8 at 2 p.m. its traditional fanfare, ringing of the market bell and a ribbon cutting at its home in the rear of the Claflin Street Municipal Parking Lot just off Belmont Center.
The market, run by the Belmont Food Collabrative, will hold a tasting by the recently opened Foodie’s Markets, there will be a Storytime event, and a musical performance featuring saxaphones.
 
The weekly vendors at the market include:
Bread Obsession (new), Brookford Farm (new), Del Sur Empanadas (new), Dick’s Market Garden Farm, Goodies Homemade, Foxboro Cheese Co., Hutchins Farm, Mamadou’s Artisan Bakery, Red’s Best Fish/Boston Smoked Fish Co. (new), and Stillman Quality Meats.

The occasional vendors this year include:
Bittersweet Herb Farm (new), Garbage to Garden (new), Indonesian Three Magnolias (new), Minuteman Kettle Corn (new), Recreo Coffee & Roasterie (new), Sustainable Belmont Rain Barrels, swissbäkers (new), and Valicenti Pasta Farm.
Learn about our vendors on the market’s website.
Schedule of Events today include:
  • 1:55 p.m.: Fanfare by Nathaniel Meyer & Ribbon Cutting by the Belmont Board of Selectmen
  • 2:15 p.m.: Tasting by Foodie’s Markets
  • 4 p.m.: Storytime with librarians from the Belmont Public Library
  • 4:30 p.m.: Music by Eight Thumbs Saxophone Quartet

Belmont Farmers Market Gets Town OK; Day Change To Be Discussed

Photo: Farmer Market Manager Suzanne Johannet (left) and Belmont Food Collabrative’s Anne Lougée before the Belmont Board of Selectmen on Monday, April 3. 

The Belmont Farmers Market will open for the 2017 season in Belmont Center after the Belmont Board of Selectmen unanimously approved a permit to its parent non-profit the Belmont Food Collaborative at the board’s public meeting on Monday, April 3.

The vote occurred a week after an attempt by the manager of the Center’s largest landlord to relocate the popular weekly market out of the Claflin Street municipal parking lot which has served as the home for Market Day in Belmont since its inception 12 years ago.

Approximately 50 market supporters who attended the meeting gave out an enthusiastic cheer after the selectmen cast its vote.

“I am so thrilled with the support from all the people who come out to shop at the Farmers Market,”said Dr. Suzanne Johannet, the Food Collaborative’s president and Farmers Market manager. She noted the level of support is not simply due to the produce and other products but that the market “provides a social experience that helps build communities and enhances life in Belmont.”

Unlike the previous meeting – which resulted in the vote being delayed a week – the encounter was far less combatative as all sides of the issue checked their emotions.

“I would have liked to have had a better tone, it was a late meeting,” said Kevin Foley, the manager of Locatelli Properties LLC which owns the former Macy’s buildling and most of the eastern side of the commercial block of Leonard Street,

Foley informed the board he and his team “wants to work with the Farmers Market … we are for the Farmers Market” and so would like to develop a plan in which the market was not be held on one of the most active shopping days of the week.

“Thursday is a very busy time,” Foley said, anticipating that many of the 200 parking spaces in the municipal lot will be occupied.

With six new business in the renovated Macy’s site preparing to open beginning in mid-May, the demand on the limited supply of parking spaces will hinder the new businesses ability to establish themselves and attract new customers.

Johannet said she finds it hard to imagine altering the long-standing traditional day for the market “on something that might turn out to be a problem which hasn’t been a problem for 12 years,” 

Johannet countered the market only requires 19 spaces for most of each Thursday and has never experienced any trouble finding parking on Market Day, supported by a 2011-12 town wide parking study showing between 60 – 100 free spaces in the lot on any given Thursday. 

All sides agreed that the market and landlord will return before the board after the end of the 2017 season in late October to review the parking issues. 

 

Largest Landlord Wants Farmers Market Out of Belmont Center

Photo: Kevin Foley before the Board of Selectmen.

It was supposed to be one of the dozens upon dozen perfunctory acts the Board of Selectmen performs ever year.

Before the board was representatives of the Belmont Food Collaborative, the folks who run the Belmont Farmers Market which is celebrating its 12th season in 2017. A popular public amenity, the farmers market has become a weekly attraction for families and foodies as well as countless Center’s workers who shop regularly for fresh produce, baked goods, and kitchen essentials.

The collaborative was seeking its annual town permit to run the market on Thursday afternoons from June to October in the rear of the town-owned parking lot behind Leonard Street in Belmont Center.

As the board’s agenda was running two hours behind its scheduled time, the selectmen appeared ready to give its blessing to the group after a few words of heartfelt success for the coming season.

Then in the nearly empty chamber, Kevin Foley, the manager of Locatelli Properties LLC – the largest landlord in Belmont Center which owns the commercial space along Leonard Street from Alexander Street to the crosswalk at Channing Road – came to the microphone and figuratively rolled a grenade into the meet and greet.

Delivering several copies of a petition with 22 signatures of business owners and store managers – nearly all tenants of his – Foley put it bluntly to the Selectmen: The Belmont Farmers Market has to go away from its long-time home in the Claflin Street Municipal Parking Lot. Now.

“It does not make sense to put a farmers market in a business community where it’s not supported,” said Foley, to the board which greeted his proclamation with bemused surprise.

And that lack of support was squarely placed on a reduction of limited parking opportunities in the municipal lot just as several large-scale businesses will be entering the Center in the next few months.

Saying the property owner has paid millions of dollars in property taxes while spending millions more on structural improvements to the former Macy’s location to attract its newest tenant, Foodies’ Urban Market “with the assurances that we would be improving parking.”

“What you’re doing [with this vote] is taking the busiest days and making it less convenient and hurt business,” said Foley.

Saying his tenant Foodies’ is “a direct competitor” with the farmers market, Foley said the supermarket’s first year in Belmont “is critical for them” to attract customers to the location. 

Insisting he wanted “immediate action” on his request, Foley told the board what the businesses want is for the Farmers Market is to “find a different location” in town, suggesting alternative spaces such as church and school parking lots.

“If the town really wants it, put it in the [Town Hall] parking lot,” he said.

“Belmont Center is not the right spot for it,” Foley told the board as the two collaborative representatives were left to hear its venture was suddenly seen as the red-headed stepchild to the business community.

Foley said for more than a year he received “assurances from different town officials that when Foodies’ opens this won’t be an issue,” naming the recently departed Town Administrator David Kale as that person. 

Parking has long been an issue in Belmont Center going back to when Filene’s’ department store anchored the retail community. Unlike commercial or strip malls, the parking lot is owned by the town with, what former selectmen believe, a two-fold purpose of supporting the businesses and residents.

Dr. Suzanne Johannet, the Food Collaborative president, told the board that an extensive search to find a suitable location was done by the group when the farmers market was initially proposed. Church properties were problematic due to services such as weddings, funerals, and meetings while schools could not be used from September onward. She noted that the market only requires 19 spaces for 21 afternoons in 2017. 

“This is a central location in town,” Johannet said. “We have great relations with the Belmont Center Business Association,” she said, adding that the collaborative has reached out to Foodies to work together to promote each other’s ventures.

While sympathetic to Foley’s complaint on parking, Selectman Chair Mark Paolillo said in the town’s view; the Farmers Market was a “quality of life issue for people” noting it could not be a success for 12 years if people did not support it.

“There’s no other place to put (the farmers market),” said Paolillo, who told Foley that the town would continue to push for a solution to the parking problem.

Here is where the conclave became fractious as Foley challenged Paolillo’s attempt to vote on the permit.

“You’re going to vote on that now?” pondered Foley which Paolillo quickly said yes, he would.

Foley countered that it only took him three hours to gather up the signatures of his tenants opposing the permit which Paolillo waved off saying that the farmers market attracted business to the center.

“There are several comments I’d like to make,” said Foley.

“You’ve already made them,” said Paolillo, as the large clock in the room struck 10 p.m.

“So you’re shutting me off?” asked Foley.

“I am, please,” said Paolillo.

It was then when Selectman Jim Williams, supported by Selectman Sami Baghdady, threw Foley and his immediate request a lifeline, asking to postpone a vote a week until Monday, April 3, as everyone talked over each other for a bit. Williams said he would review the comments from the businesses which signed the petition.

Foley told the Belmontonian after the meeting that the issue is not supported for the Farmers Market which Foley said he favors “but just not in a location that we have a difficult time right now.”

“What do you think will happen when four new businesses open. We’ll need every space to help them to be successful,” said Foley.

The Food Collaborative, in a press statement, stated that they “are aware of concerns about parking in the Center. We acknowledge that things have been difficult for all of us over the past two summers during the construction project.”

“As for employee parking, which we understand is a big issue, we don’t believe that eliminating our use of the lot would have any significant impact. Our volunteers and vendors park on surrounding streets and not in the lot,” said the Collaborative.

“If this season shows that there are significant parking problems, we are open to discussion about alternative locations for the future,” said the non-profit.
 
“We are hopeful that with the construction finished, the new spaces on Concord Avenue and the opening of Foodies, all businesses, including the Farmers Market will thrive this summer.