August 17, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer (photos courtesy of HFM)
The popular Hingham Farmers Market (HFM) returned to its long-awaited usual walk-in style Saturday -- scaled back due to COVID-19, but a huge success nonetheless -- with a wide variety of offerings and smiles all-around.
Shoppers eager to buy fresh produce, fruit, poultry, beef, fish, lobsters, eggs, plants, cheese, bakery, jams and jellies, and soup lined up wearing face masks -- with social distancing in place -- waited for the market to open promptly at 9 a.m. in the Station Street parking lot. In all, more than 600 HFM fans stopped by.
After starting with a drive-through format earlier in the season due to COVID-19, the HFM recently gained town board approvals to start-up the walk-in market again.
Selectman Joe Fisher was onhand to ring the bell "to kick off what felt to all of us like the real opening day of the 2020 season," HFM President Mark Cullings told the Hingham Anchor. "We had a spectacular first day. It was gratifying to see so many old friends, and all of us must have heard a hundred times, 'Welcome back!'"
Market organizers, Friends of the HFM members, and other volunteers welcomed arriving customers. All went as planned overall, with a few tweaks coming to make the operation run even better.
Vendors were well-prepared and well-stocked to handle the demand, although Mary Bukujian, who’s been a market vendor since the 1970s -- and without whom the HFM likely wouldn’t exist, Cullings said -- reported selling out of her famous corn by noon.
"Our loyal cadre of volunteers, under the guidance of Friends of the HFM’s Bev Vernon, were busy all day monitoring the market’s capacity, helping vendors, and answering questions," Cullings said.
The Hingham DPW provided traffic barricades for traffic control as well as two temporary handicap parking signs that were placed close to the market entrance.
For a good part of the day, there was a line of people waiting to enter, due to the market's responsibility to stay within its capacity. That said, the HFM ran smoothly, and there were no complaints. "We do request, however, that when possible, shoppers only send one person into the market [from their family] during peak times," Cullings said. This practice will allow the market to operate more efficiently and is out of consideration for fellow shoppers who are waiting to enter.
"Everyone practiced good COVID-19 behavior, arriving at the market masked and practicing social distancing, even when it reached its capacity limit," he reported. The one-way counter-clockwise flow of shoppers proved to be effective.
Market administrators also request that for the safety of all marketgoers, anyone who isn't feeling well not attend the market that day.
The Friends of the Hingham Farmers Market SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) has been reactivated, with The Fruit Center Marketplace continuing as matching partner.
This means that the HFM can continue to supplement its SNAP customers’ purchases up to $15 per week when they buy fruit, produce, fish, eggs, chicken, beef, bread, and other qualifying food products at the market.
The HFM will be open every Saturday -- rain or shine -- from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. until Thanksgiving.