BLM Sign Relocated At Belmont Farmers Market After Being Banished For Being Political Speech

Photo: Black Lives Matter sign at Belmont Farmers Market

Since last summer, Black Lives Matter signs have become a familiar feature in Belmont placed on yards, fences, windows and cars showing ones commitment to the current drive for diversity and racial justice.

But last week one of the signs – located on the sawhorse barrier at the market’s entry – was removed by the Belmont Farmers Market at the request of town officials after a patron questioned the political nature of the sign. The reason for its removal is where the market is location; in the Claflin Street parking lot, a town-owned property and the message the sign conveyed was a political statement.

At Monday, July 19, Select Board meeting, representatives from the Farmers Market and its parent organization the Belmont Food Collaborative came to request some guidance on where, and if, it can include the sign that expressed its support for Black Lives Matters.

In its 15th year, Belmont Farmers Market is annually permitted by the Select Board to take about a third of the Claflin lot from the first week in June to the end of October fruit, vegetables, baked goods and other Farmer Market staples.

Hal Shubin said that since the murder of George Floyd and the resulting summer of protests the market to “explicated include our Black friend and neighbors” by placing this year a Black Lives Matter sign at the weekly market located on a barrier inside the market’s boundaries.

While the market voluntarily complied with the request, Shubin told the board when discussing another incident the Belmont Police told the market that while operating on town land, it can enforce its own market appropriate rules, which would include a message on its commitment to civil rights and inclusivity.

Shubin said while he understands that creating a sign placement policy for the entire town will be difficult, “we believe signs at the farmers market and one its equipment reflects our opinion and not the town’s.”

Saying it was surprising that this issue hasn’t come up in any great way in the past, Select Board Chair Adam Dash said a new Belmont sign policy will need to walk a fine line on what is acceptable “because this is going to continue to come up.” Board Member Roy Epstein said one of his main concerns is for the town not to be sued. “I’m all in favor of freedom of expression but I don’t want a scenario that we’ll be part of a law suit,” he said.

Town Counsel George Hall said first, a new sign policy must treat everyone equally on expressive activity on town property. At the market, each of the dozen weekly vendors have the opportunity to place a sign at their workspace, said Hall. But while not wanting to limit what a vendor can post, Hall said it would be in the best interest of the market and the town not to turn the space into “essentially a bill board where it could becomes a competition where lots of different people will want to put up a lot of signs.”

Suzanne Johannet, president of the Food Collaborative, suggested a compromise of placing the placard on the manager’s tent, where the market’s volunteer staff helps customers and vendors.

“That is a even more clear expression that it is our space,” said Shubin Hall said the tent placement is “maybe the best place to draw the line” while the town cobbles together a sign bylaw for public spaces in the next few months.

“That works for me,” said Shubin, a short term solution which the Select Board agreed.

Belmont Farmers Market Season Opener Thursday, June 4

Photo: The Belmont Farmers Market opens this week

Summer is almost here and that means a Belmont institution, the Farmers Market, is opening for the 2020 season at 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 4 in the Belmont Center municipal parking lot with the ringing of the market bell and the cutting of the tomato ribbon.

But this year, due to the ongoing pandemic, there will be changes to how patrons will be able to shop. This season, the market will operate more like an outdoor supermarket without the typical social events that residents have grown accustomed to and safety measures have been developed and will be implemented in consultation with the Belmont Health Department.

The shopping area will be limited to 40 shoppers, and there will be a one-way flow through the area, with a single entrance and a single exit. Vendor tents will be spaced six feet apart instead of being adjacent to each other, and there is a limit of three people standing at any tent. The entrance and vendor areas will have markings to ensure that shoppers stand six feet from each other.

Face masks and gloves will be required for vendors and Market staff. Shoppers must wear face masks, and are asked to shop alone. Shoppers may not touch products until they are paid for, and they will be encouraged to preorder or use credit/debit cards when they pay at the Market.

Vendors may not handle reusable bags, and must provide extra space or a screen between themselves and shoppers. Hand washing stations will be provided, and a portable toilet will be available for Market staff and volunteers. Extra volunteers will be on hand to manage the flow of shoppers. Vendors must check the health of themselves and their staff, and the Market managers will monitor the health of their staff.

Questions about the Belmont Farmers’ Market can be directed to: belmontfarmersmarket@gmail.com

Good News! Belmont Farmers Market To Open In June With Social Distancing

Photo: Belmont Farmers Market is readying for the 2020 season.

With so many of Belmont’s annual events postponed and popular stores are closed, it will no doubt that residents will be happy to hear the Belmont Farmers Market is scheduled to open for the 2020 season on time in early June after a unanimous vote of the Select Board on Monday, April 27.

“The governor has farmers markets on the list of essential businesses and an important part of the local food system especially now,” said Hal Shubin, the chairman of the farmers market located in Belmont Center which is part of the Belmont Food Collaborative.

But there will be some significant changes to the way shoppers and vendors will be doing business as the COVID-19 pandemic will alter the relaxed meandering zeitgeist of past market days in Belmont.

“[Town officials] have developed a list of criteria that the farmers market will observe in their operations to make it safe, but the whole operation … will be subject to over oversight by the Board of Health,” said Shubin. “My goal is always to understand what the rules are so that we can make sure that they’re enforced.”

The first change is the market will be located on a larger footprint in the rear of the Claflin Street parking lot, allowing greater spacing between vendors, Shubin told the board.

“Right now the stores in the center are closed and that’s obviously really unfortunate, but while they’re closed, there’s a lot of room in the parking would like to expand … the market so we can allow proper social distancing,” said Shubin.

“When social distancing rules are relaxed, the stores will reopen and at that point, we should be able to return to our usual area,” he said.

In addition:

  • There will be markings on the pavement before each booth where customers will stand in line to allow for social distancing.
  • Shoppers will trek through the market in a “one-way” direction to minimize accidental contact with others.
  • The number of patrons within the market area will be capped at 40 to prevent any crowding that could make social distancing difficult.
  • There will also be hand washing facilities and sanitizers in the market’s confines.

What will be missing this year are the events and entertainment the market hosted each season; from children reading by Belmont Public Library librarians, a wide array of musicians, samples by local restaurants as well as visits by magicians and balloon artists.

“We are focusing on getting people in and out,” said Shubin. “We’re going to encourage people to come alone and to leave their children [at home].”

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.

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

Be Well Belmont Holding Health and Activity Dialogue Sunday

Photo: Be Well Belmont logo.

Residents and families are invited on Sunday, Oct. 18, to attend a community-wide dialogue on healthy eating and staying active sponsored by Be Well Belmont.

The free event, which is open to everyone in town, will take place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Beech Street Center.

The event will provide the public an opportunity to share their thoughts on making Belmont a healthier community.

Be Well Belmont’s overriding goal – which is a project of the Belmont Food Collaborative – is to promote healthy eating and being active in Belmont through education, programming and improving access to opportunities for the whole community. The group collaborates with town government, schools and community groups.

Early successes include:

  • A screening of the documentary “Fed Up” in March.
  • Funding the crossing flag pilot program started by Safe Routes to Schools.
  • A successful series of cooking classes are focusing on healthy recipes with locally produced food.
  • Collaborating on a National Food Day initiative.

A community needs survey is underway:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/bewellbelmont

For more information about Be Well Belmont, visit its website.

È buono: Learn to Cook the Italian Way Thanks to Belmont Food Collaborative

Photo: Penne Ai Peperoni

Ah, Italia! Wine, sunshine, romance and … food.

While you may be unable to travel this year to visit Rome, Sicily or Tuscany, thanks to the Belmont Food Collaborative – the folks that run the Belmont Farmers Market – you and your older children can learn how to cook as if you are in Italy.

The group is holding three hands-on classes about Italian cooking in May, including:

  1. Cook Italian, for High School Students: Friday May 8, 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at First Church Belmont; Unitarian, 404 Concord Ave., Fee: $12, including ingredients. Class size: 10.
  2. Italian Cooking Basics 101: Monday May 11, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at First Church Belmont, Unitarian; Fee: $33, including ingredients. Class size: 8.
  3. Italian Spring Menu: Monday May 18, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at First Church Belmont, Unitarian; Fee: $33, including ingredients. Class size: 8.

Find more information and to sign up for the classes, go to the Belmont Food Collaborative’s website.

Instructors Carmen Conte Sivers and Claudia Levi Brizzolara are natives from Italy – respectively of the Amalfi Coast and Torino – as well as Belmont moms who will offer their Italian cooking experiences and share their joy of cooking as it was transmitted to them by their mothers and grandmothers.

Sign up now and you’ll see that delicious and nutritious food does not have to be complicated to make, nor expensive to buy.

Belmont Food Holding Cooking Classes for Kids and Adults

The Belmont Food Collaborative – the residents who run and manage the Belmont Farmers Market – will be holding a fun activity for parents and children as it teams up with Powisset Cooks! and The Trustees of the Reservations to hold two fun cooking classes for adults and kids where they will be cooking seasonal winter recipes here in Belmont.

A pair of cooking classes, taking place in the kitchen of the First Church of Belmont, 404 Concord Ave., will be held on Sunday, Feb. 22 and March 22 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The fee is $35 for an adult/child pair
. Each class is limited to seven pairs.

The first class is “One Potato, Two Potato, Lots of Potato Pancakes,” an exciting, hands-on exploration in potato-pancake making with Powisset Cooks! culinary educator, Rachel Kaplan. The group will experiment with making and eating a variety of potato pancake recipes.

The second class is “Late Winter Soup,” is for soup lovers! Kaplan will guide the pairs through making and sampling a few soup recipes, and you’ll learn more about local, seasonal vegetables along the way.

Register online here. Please register by Wednesday, Feb. 18.

Planning Your Vegetable Garden at the Library

Spend the shortest day of the year planning for warmer weather with Belmont native and farmer/educator Rose Cherneff. In “Planning Your Vegetable Garden,” Rose will talk you through setting goals for your garden that match your lifestyle and priorities, including how much seed to order, seed sources, how to create a planting timeline, how far apart and where to plant things, what crops do well in this climate, and how to increase the health of your soil.

This class is sponsored by the Belmont Food Collaborative, which hosts educational events like this throughout the year, such as cheese making, preparing ravioli from scratch, fermenting vegetables, seed saving, and backyard chicken tending.