A visit to the Blue Hill Farmers Market
Amanda Provencher joked with customers as she quickly bagged produce and made change. On 45 acres in Penobscot, Maine, Provencher grows vegetables and tends pastures. At the Blue Hill Farmers Market, she most enjoys the customer interaction, which can’t be found in grocery stores, she said. “It’s fun to sere the same people year after year,” Provencher said. It is exciting when a customer approaches and she already knows what they’re looking for, she said.
Becky Alley started the Breadbox Bakery 22 years ago after she picked up new baking techniques while she lived with her grandmother. Alley always admired her grandmother’s baking skills, and turned a long-time hobby into a career. Since the bakery’s beginnings, Alley enlisted her sister in the job, and they now wake at 2 or 3 a.m. every morning and bake 60 to 70 loaves of bread and about 40 pies a day, which does include the cookies, scones and muffins she also sells. Alley has a booth at four farmers markets and a bakery in Orland, Maine. Alley’s advice to aspiring bakers is to “follow your heart and just go for it.”
The River Wind Woolies booth offered a colorful array of handmade items. Thermal cozies and wool-covered soaps are made from wet-felting, while the present pillows and mittens were created from recycled wool or cashmere materials. Each item is handcrafted one-at-a-time and is one-of-a-kind. Robin Byrne began crafting 6 years ago. She believes the farmers market is a great place to network and get connected with people in her community, she said. “It’s a nice way to sell my work.”
Bob Gillmore fell into the spoon-making business 15 years ago, when the byproducts of his wood-sculpting became a big hit with his family and friends. “It turns out people like wooden spoons,” he said. Now, Gillmore produces right- and left-handed spoons in bulk to sell at markets year-round. At first, he didn’t realize he made left-handed spoons, but when a customer pointed it out, he said it was “the best idea [he] never had.” Gillmore gets many repeat customers, such as Peter Stark. Stark approached the booth seeking a new addition to his kitchen. “I have so many of them,” he said. “I always want more of them.” Gillmore enjoys the fact that his customers appreciate things that are functional, he said.