After 16 years of operating a successful market in different venues and through a pandemic, the Cape Ann Farmers Market is taking a hiatus to regroup and re-evaluate its future. It will not be hosting a market in the 2022 season.
Recognized as one the best farmers markets in Massachusetts, the CAFM has hosted dozens of local farmers and hundreds of vendors since it started in 2006, and helped incubate localinstitutions including Backyard Growers and Markouk Bread. During its years at Stage Fort Park, CAFM created a weekly festival-like experience with live music and popular events such as the North American Marine Alliance’s Seafood Throwdown. CAFM has worked to bring high quality, nutritious food to all residents of Cape Ann regardless of income by hosting important food-access programs, includingSNAP/EBT, HIP, WIC and Senior Farmers Market Coupons. CAFM was built on the commitment of dedicated volunteers working first under the direction of Nicole Bogin followed by current Market Director Courtney Ayer.
The COVID pandemic disrupted businesses worldwide and created many obstacles for CAFM. In 2020, the market was limited to operating a drive-through market in the O’Maley School parking lot, and in 2021 it was relocated to Harbor Loop, both difficult venues for vendors and customers. This created substantial losses for CAFM, but former Market Director Nicole Bogin noted that, “Courtney was heroic in keeping the Market going during the pandemic.” This year, the Market intended to return to Stage Fort Park, but its former location conflicted with plans to beautify the park for the Gloucester 400 celebration in 2023. A viable alternative location was designated in partnership with the city, but the uncertainty combined with the financial instability of two difficult years led the board to suspend operations for 2022.
Ayer describes mixed feelings about the hiatus, but is grateful for nearly 10 years working alongside longtime vendors, volunteers, community partners, and the board. “We’re all disappointed about not doing the Market this year. We want the Market and our farmers and other vendors to be successful, andunfortunately we have decided that a 2022 market is not a viable way for CAFM to continue supporting the local food system.”
The CAFM Advisory Committee is grateful to everyone who has supported the Market over the past 16 years as shoppers, volunteers, donors, grant funders, business sponsors and community partners. They know that the community will miss the weekly market just as much as they do, and hope that everyone will continue to support Cape Ann’s local farms and small businesses as they continue to evolve.
Signed, the Cape Ann Farmers Market Advisory Committee
Charlee Bianchini, Mary John Boylan, Paul Cultera, JoeAnn Hart, Susan Steiner