Chester Farmers Market to close

The eight-year-old Chester Farmers Market won’t be returning for the 2012 season, its officers have announced.
For the past five years, vendors had set up at the Zachary’s Pizza House parking lot every Sunday from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day weekend.
Shawn Cunningham, market vice president, said a combination of factors lead to the decision.

“Holding a Sunday market is a challenge – especially for attracting vendors – but in addition we have struggled to find a large, loyal customer base.” he said, adding that vendors don’t come back to a market where their wares don’t find buyers.
“We knew that last year was going to be very difficult, as it was for a number of Chester businesses,” he said, referring to the reconstruction of two bridges on Route 103 in Chester. “The market considered suspending operations then, but The Vermont Country Store in Rockingham offered to host the market. Cunningham said the market did return to Zachary’s once the bridges reopened, but the customers did not. Then, he said, Hurricane Irene hit on the last Sunday in August, usually a high time for sales and the market lost its tourist traffic as well.
Jon Cohen, an organic farmer who owns Deep Meadow Farm and has been the fresh produce anchor of the market for five years, said that a major expansion of his farm, to 59 acres in Weathersfield, means he must sell at the busiest markets in the area, including Londonderry and Norwich, both on Saturdays.
“It’s a shame that it’s ending,” he said of the Chester market, adding that it had been good for his business. Cohen said that he is offering Chester residents the opportunity to join his CSA, with local dropoff if he gets at least 10 Chester members. For more information, click or call 802-674-4181.
Cynthia Prairie* and Shawn Cunningham, who own Pardonfield Farm in Chester and have been vending at the market and managing it for the past five, said they will continue to sell their high quality vegetable and herb plants from their greenhouse on Popple Dungeon Road and, on Saturday mornings, at The West River Farmers Market in Londonderry where Shawn’s rustic bread, croissants and lemonade can also be found.

— Telegraph staff report

*Cynthia Prairie is also the editor of The Chester Telegraph.

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  1. melody reed says:

    So sorry to hear of the market closing in Chester but happy to hear that Deep Meadow Farm has expanded. I hope to join the CSA.