Photo: Sophia Ries, 5, rings the Market Bell as the Belmont Farmers Market starts its 10th season on Thursday, June 11, 2015.
The weather in Belmont Center on Thursday, June 11 – hot, hazy sun with temperatures nearing the 90s – was more suitable for a midsummer afternoon in the tropics than your typical late spring day in New England.
But it wasn’t just mad dogs and Englishmen willing to go out in yesterday’s midday sun. Dozens of Belmont residents flocked to the Claflin Street municipal parking lot where a small encampment of vendors welcomed the opening day of the 2015 Belmont Farmers Market.
To officially mark the market’s 10th year, Heli Tomford, founding president of the Belmont Farmers Market, joined the market’s Tomato mascot – this year, it was Sophia Ries, granddaughter of one of the market manager, who showed four fingers and a thumb when asked how old she was – for the ribbon cutting and the ringing of the Market bell.
With a “snip” of the big scissors and a wonderful fanfare by trumpeter Ned Searls, Belmont’s weekly market opened for the season that runs until the last week of October. The market is open Thursdays, rain or shine, from 2 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.
This year’s collection of vendors is a mix of the reliable favorites – such as Kimbell Fruit Farm, Fior D’Italia and Mamadou’s Artisan Bakery – and new businesses including Fille de Ferme and Carr’s Ciderhouse, as well as Belmont-based providers such as Goodies Homemade, Leslie Wolf Baking, Seta’s Cafe, Sfolia Baking Company, Toltec Coffee and the Underwood Greenhouses.
Each week brings a slew of new entertainment, from musicians, artists, story tellers, as well as one of the market’s favorites, the talented young magician, Ryan Landry.
Speaking of the market’s success – with an ever growing number of vendors and customers – Tomford said a great deal has to do with “the change in our public mindset on what we eat.”
With young people and families more conscious of what they feed themselves, there is now a preference for locally grown or made produce and staples, she said.
Tomford – who recently returned from teaching English at a Buddhist monastery in Myanmar (formerly Burma) – compares eating well to owning a high-performance vehicle. “We have this wonderful machine, your body, but you will not get the best performance if you fill the tank up with regular gas. You need to use the [premium] kind.”
Tomford noted that the market is run through the Belmont Food Collaborative, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization created to promote good health through access to fresh and local food.
“The market is not just for the benefit of our vendors and ourselves, but to benefit the greater community,” she said, pointing to the market’s acceptance of SNAP benefits up to an extra $25 per Market day.
“Everyone should have access to good food,” said Tomford.