(GREAT BARRINGTON and WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.) – Berkshire Grown facilitated an economic impact of more than $100,000 for vendors participating in four Holiday Farmers’ Markets in northern and southern Berkshire in November and December 2011. The markets featured locally grown and produced food during months when farmers’ markets are not open in the region, bringing together more than 60 regional vendors in November and 75-plus vendors in December. This marked a nine percent increase over last year, a sign of increased awareness of local food and growing support for the local economy.
Average vendor income improved by a margin of $150 to $200 per vendor from 2010. Vendors at the four markets – two events in Great Barrington and two in Williamstown – were thrilled with the outcome of the markets and all who submitted post-market surveys are planning to return.
More than 2,600 community members visited the two markets in November, the weekend before Thanksgiving, with more than 1,000 patrons in Great Barrington and 1,500-plus coming through the doors of the Williams College Towne Field House in Williamstown. The December markets attracted more than 2,500 people combined, with approximately 1,000 in Great Barrington and 1,400-plus in Williamstown. Vendor fees, Berkshire Grown-branded item sales, sponsorship from local supporters and a grant from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation’s Greener Pastures Fund helped generate more than $7,000 for Berkshire Grown, which the organization needed to produce the markets.
“We’re thrilled by the success of the Holiday Farmers’ Markets,” said Barbara Zheutlin, executive director of Berkshire Grown. “The markets generated more than $100,000 for local vendors because we focused on marketing to draw as many patrons as possible. This is a great opportunity for farmers and local food producers to sell directly to community members at a fun event.”
As part of Williams College’s ongoing commitment to sustainable food and local agriculture, the College co-sponsored the markets by donating the Williamstown venue as well as providing funding toward the event. The Zilkha Center and Sustainable Food and Agriculture Program at Williams College provided support to the markets as a community partnership to further incorporate the principles of sustainability into the fabric of campus life.
In addition to support from Williams College, the premier sponsors for the 2011 markets were the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce and the Green Pastures Fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. Major sponsors of the event included Berkshire Co-op Market, Berkshire Organics, Blue Q, Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Mezze Restaurant Group, Sweet Brook Farm and The Red Lion Inn.
Due to the popularity and success of the holiday market events over the last three years, Berkshire Grown plans to host similar markets in late fall of 2012. The events will take place in Williamstown and Great Barrington with markets scheduled before Thanksgiving and the weekend before Christmas. More details will be announced in the coming months. Visit Berkshire Grown for additional details or call 413.528.0041.