(GREAT BARRINGTON and WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.) – On Saturday, December 17, 2011, from 10 am to 2 pm, Berkshire Grown will host more than 70 regional farmers, food producers and artisan crafters at the last Holiday Farmers’ Market of the season, scheduled for Williamstown and Great Barrington the weekend before Christmas.
Many vendors will be offering items only available at this time of year or that have been created for these markets specifically. All vendors will feature locally grown, produced and crafted products. The December markets will feature local crafts in addition to farm and artisan food products.
This weekend’s holiday markets follow up last month’s record-breaking holiday markets. On November 19 and 20, Berkshire Grown hosted more than 65 regional farmers and food producers in the Berkshires, attracting more than 2,600 community members to the third annual Holiday Farmers’ Markets the weekend before Thanksgiving.
The markets, which help bridge the gap in locally grown food access during months when farmers’ markets are not available in the region, generated more than $45,000 in vendor income at the four-hour Great Barrington and Williamstown markets combined, an increase of five percent over November 2010’s figures.
“The markets were an overwhelming success,” said Barbara Zheutlin, executive director of Berkshire Grown. “The economic impact of these markets has been incredible for the farmers.”
Surveys are still coming in from vendors, but the Great Barrington November market has reported close to $20,000 and the Williamstown market more than $27,000 in income for participating vendors. Several patrons traveled from the Albany region and Pioneer Valley to attend the markets.
“The markets give the community a way to support and celebrate our local farmers and food producers,” said Zheutlin. “People buy directly from farmers, helping to extend the season, strengthening local agriculture in the off-season.”
In Great Barrington, the December market will feature items including wool, pottery, candles, soap, lotions, herbals, flowers and jewelry with new vendors Asia Luna, Bean Yarn, Berkshire Orchids, North Plain Farm Weaving, Lorna’s Naturals, Moho Designs and Pamela Read Hardcastle Garden & Floral Design plus a Metroland table and wares from market sponsor Kripalu’s gift shop.
The Williamstown market will highlight new products/vendors with handmade herbal soaps, glass beaded jewelry, handmade bags, silk-screened organic clothing, woodcraft and artisan breads from Dancing Bare, Memphremagog Studios, Erin Kaukus Designs, Moho Designs, Naga Bakehouse, Norm Jolin and Peterman’s Boards & Bowls. As a special treat, local burgers from the prize steer at this year’s Big E will be grilled outside for lunch by The Red Lion Inn, one of the market’s major sponsors. A complete list of vendors for the December markets can be found at Holiday Farmers’ Market.
Entertainment for the whole family will include live music at both venues and lunch items will be available for purchase. The Great Barrington market will feature a visit from Santa for the kids at noon and the Williamstown market will highlight the Berkshire Chorale from 11:30 am to noon to ring in the holiday spirit. The Mocha Jam Band, a perennial favorite, will perform from noon to 1:30 pm as a benefit to the Friendship Center Food Pantry in North Adams.
Holiday Farmers’ Markets will take place at the Muddy Brook Elementary School on Monument Valley Road in Great Barrington (10 am – 2 pm) and the Williams College Towne Field House on Latham Street in Williamstown (10 am – 2 pm.)
As part of Williams College’s ongoing commitment to sustainable food and local agriculture, the College is co-sponsoring the markets by donating the Williamstown venue as well as providing funding toward the event. The Williams College Sustainable Food and Agriculture Program and The Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives is supporting the markets as a community partnership to further incorporate the principles of sustainability into the fabric of campus life.
In addition to generous support from Williams College, the premier sponsors for the markets are the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce and the Green Pastures Fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. Major sponsors of the event include Berkshire Co-op Market, Berkshire Organics, BlueQ, Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Mezze Restaurant Group, Sweet Brook Farm and the Red Lion Inn.