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 Opening 2021 Season Thursday, June 3

Photo: The Belmont Farmers’ Market

Opening Day for the 15th season of the Belmont Farmers’ Market will occur on Thursday, June 3 at 2 p.m. in the Town Center parking lot, 10 Claflin St. in Belmont Center.

Pandemic rules: The goal is to make everyone feel safe and comfortable at the Market, and has worked with the Belmont Health Department to develop this season’s rules:

  • Masks are encouraged for everyone, especially non-vaccinated people older than five years old.
  • This season, shoppers may select their own produce, but the market is limiting the number of people at each produce stand.
  • Read all of our pandemic rules for 2021.

Food assistance The market will match SNAP and P-EBT benefits, as well as WIC + Senior FMNP coupons to help all families take home great, local food. Most of the produce vendors are in the HIP program. See how food assistance works, or donate to support the program.

This season the market will have six new vendors (in italics), and 17 favorites from previous years. Many are weekly. Some come every other week, monthly or occasionally – get our newsletter so you know each week’s schedule. See what’s growing now on the farms.

Full-Time Vendor List

Produce: C&M Farm, Dick’s Market Garden, Giant Gorilla Greens, Hutchins Farm, Joyberry Farm, Nicewicz Family Farm
Meat, dairy & fish: Lilac Hedge Farm, Hooked (Red’s Best Seafood + Boston Smoked Fish), Round Table Farm cheese
Baked goods: Hearth Artisan Bread, Mariposa Bakery
Prepared foods: Del Sur empanadas, Drew’s Stews and More, Just Hummus, Mei Mei Restaurant, Tex Mex Eats tamales, Valicenti Pasta FarmAnd more: A-Butter almond butter, Flores de Café coffees, Hillside Harvest hot sauces, House Bear Brewing mead, Humble Bones Granola, Merton’s Maple Syrup

Opening Day Vendors

Produce: C&M Farm, Dick’s Market Garden, Giant Gorilla Greens, Hutchins Farm, Joyberry Farm, Nicewicz Family Farm
Meat, dairy & fish: Lilac Hedge Farm, Hooked (Red’s Best Seafood + Boston Smoked Fish), Round Table Farm cheese
Baked goods: Hearth Artisan Bread, Mariposa Bakery
Prepared foods: Drew’s Stews and More, Just Hummus, Tex Mex Eats tamales, Valicenti Pasta Farm
And more: House Bear Brewing mead

Belmont Farmers Market, July 2: Load Up For The Fourth

Photo: Belmont Farmers Market

It is another great Market Day – sunny and toasty – in Belmont as the Farmers’ Market is open in the Claflin Street parking lot in the rear of Belmont Center.

The market is open from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, changes have been made to shopping run the market include social distancing, preordering when possible, masks and hand washing. We have a one-way path through a larger Market area. We have eliminated social events to reduce crowding. Read our Covid-19 safety rules for you, for us, and for the vendors.

Read all of    our pandemic safety rules
Read all of our pandemic safety rules
BFM-CovidMap.png

Food assistance We match government benefits to help all families take home great, local food: SNAP (Food Stamps), P-EBT (for school-aged children during the pandemic), FMNP (for moms & babies, and for seniors). Most of our produce vendors accept HIP, which adds free produce for SNAP recipients.

This week’s vendors include:

Produce
C&M Farm
Dick’s Market Garden

• Hutchins Farm
• Neighbor’s Acre microgreens
• Joyberry Farm mushrooms

Meat, fish & dairy
• Lilac Hedge Farm
• Hooked Fish Shop w/Red’s Best fish & Boston Smoked Fish

Bread, pastry & sweets
• Mariposa Bakery pastries & bread.

Prepared foods
• Tex Mex Eats tamales.

And more
• A Seasoned Chef Spice Blends
• House Bear Brewing
• Flores de Cafe

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].”

Stormy Weather: Farmers Market Cancelled Thursday Due To ‘Nor’easter’

Photo: Not this week.

The Market bell will not be ringing in Belmont tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 10. Blame it on stormy weather.

“The Belmont Farmers’ Market for Oct. 10 has been canceled due to the nor’easter coming in,” according to Hal Shubin of the Belmont Food Cooperative.

“The forecast calls for rain and strong winds all day, with gusts up to 40 mph. That makes it unsafe for our vendors, shoppers and volunteers.”

The storm will move slowly and close enough to the Massachusetts coast this week to bring several coastal impacts to the Eastern Seaboard, including rough surf, coastal flooding, heavy rain and strong winds, according to the Weather Channel.

There are three more dates this season: Oct. 17, 24 and 31. The Market is on Thursdays, in the parking lot in Belmont Center, from 2 p.m. to 6 pm.

Celebrate National Farmers Market Week In Belmont Thursday

Photo: A special week at the Farmers Market.

It’s National Farmers’ Market Week, August 4-10.

Farmers’ markets stimulate local economies, increase access to fresh, healthy food, and promote sustainable farming practices. They reconnect residents to the bounty of their region, sharing knowledge about seasonality and the variety of local goods. 

Stop by to celebrate and support the local farmers and food entrepreneurs that are helping to make our community a better place. There will be fun activities for the family – a scavenger hunt, photo booth, prizes and more.

Expected vendors this week:

Produce: Dick’s Market Garden, Common Acre Farm, Hutchins Farm, C&M Farm, Flats Mentor Farm, Nicewicz Family Farm

Meat, fish and dairy: Hooked – Red’s Best & Boston Smoked Fish Co., Foxboro Cheese Co., Lilac Hedge Farm, The Little White Goat Dairy

Bread, pastry and sweets: Mamadou’s Artisan Bakery

Prepared foods: Del Sur Empanadas, Valicenti Pasta Farm, Keegan Kreations, This Haiti

And more: When Life Gives You Lemons, Recreo Coffee & Roasterie, Beverly Bees, Merton’s Maple Syrup

At the Events Tent

2 p.m.: Lindsay Straw
Traditional ballads have been a source of inspiration for guitarist, singer and Irish bouzouki player Lindsay Straw since her childhood in Montana. But she truly grew into the art when she became immersed in Boston’s Irish and folk music scenes. Once here, she began to tie together the threads of the traditions she was most passionate about: English, Scottish, Irish and American folk songs from the 60’s, 70’s and beyond.

2 p.m.: Face Painting with Nina White
Nina is a rising senior at Belmont High School. She is applying to art schools and hopes to be a professional artist in the future. She is very popular with kids and adults alike.

4 p.m.: Storytime
Belmont Public Library staff read to young kids at the Market each week.

4:30 p.m.: Ruth Rappaport and Friends
Ruth will return to the market this Thursday to play mountain ballads, blues, honky-tonk hits and old folk tunes. Ruth will be joined by Alan Kaufman on the fiddle and Gian Criscitiello on bass.

At the Community Table

2 p.m.: Pop Up Library
The Belmont Public Library will be ready to lend you some books, answer questions, and give recommendations.

Shoppers are reminded that the Market matches SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) dollars up to $20 per person per Market day and most produce vendors support the HIP program which provides free produce to SNAP recipients.

Belmont Farmers Market Opens Thursday, June 6, At 2 PM

Photo: Ribbon cutting Thursday at 2 p.m.

Roy Epstein, Belmont’s newest member of the Select Board, will join Miss Tomato on Thursday, June 6 at 2 p.m. for the ceremonial ribbon cutting, bell ringing and a trumpet fanfare, to celebrate the opening of the 14th season of the Belmont Farmers Market.

Not only will residents and visitors have great local produce, baked goods, dairy, meat and fish, and prepared foods to purchase like all farmers’ markets have, but the Belmont Farmers Market is more.

,There will be storytime, performances for kids and grownups, community information, chats with friends and neighbors, and much more.

VENDORS ON OPENING DAY

  • Produce: C & M Farm*, Common Acre Farm*, Dick’s Market Garden, Hutchins Farm
  • Meat, fish & dairy: Hooked (Red’s Best & Boston Smoked Fish Co), Foxboro Cheese Co., Lilac Hedge Farm*
  • Bread, pastry & sweets: Dulce D Leche, Mamadou’s Artisan Bakery, Mariposa Bakery*, Tick Tock Chocolates*
  • Prepared foods: Del Sur Natural Empanadas, Deano’s Pasta, Just Hummus*, Tex Mex Eats
  • And more: Beverly Bees,*, When Life Gives You Lemons.
  • Indicates a new vendor in 2019. Find out more about all of our vendors.

EVENTS TENT

The market match government benefits to help all families take home great, local food: SNAP (Food Stamps), WIC (for moms & babies) and FMNP (for seniors). Most of our produce vendors accept HIP.

  • 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.: Music by The Soundchasers
  • 4 p.m. – 4 p.m.: Storytime for kids and grownups. Reading by our friends at the Belmont Public Library
  • 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.: Music by LBE Brass

COMMUNITY TABLE

  • 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.: Talk with Mary Beth Calnan, Belmont’s Recycling Coordinator. She can answer questions about Belmont’s plastic bag ban, and about trash, recycling and yard waste pickup.
  • Kim Foster of Community Growing: Plant a seed with your kids to take home while learning about gardening and Belmont Food Collaborative’s Community Growing program.

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.