How do you create a vibrant community center without a business center? From an outsider’s perspective, this was the question I had in my mind when I made the 20 minute drive to Canterbury on Wednesday afternoon. I knew very little about the town going in, except that I had driven through it a few times and visited Canterbury Shaker Village for some classes years ago. But, some of their community farmers market board members had reached out and asked if I would visit and share what the town of Canterbury (population about 2,352) was up to, and I agreed.
I was definitely correct in remembering the beauty of the drive. The farmers market is set up in what I would call the municipal center, adjacent to the town hall and the town library. There’s free parking all over the place, and people came from miles around to visit the bustling market.
It was clear to me that the community was passionate about the people, locally grown products, local music, and making local food accessible to everybody. After a few conversations, I learned that the market works with the library to coordinate library activities with shopping, and that day the parents could leave their kids with the magic show (!!) and shop outside. A brilliant idea.
In addition to the friendliness of every single person and vendor I spoke to, I was impressed with the variety of foods and products for sale. The market runs from 4:00 to 6:30 on Wednesdays, and you can come pick up Indian food for dinner, tons of baked goods and jams, fresh produce, meats, cheese, and full-blown plants for your garden.
The board of directors encourages frequent market-goers to become members to help keep everything going. Now in its 13th year, it’s clear that the system works! The small annual fee helps pay for leasing their space from June 5 through October 2, insurance, and live music each week. Sometimes the weeks have specific themes as well.
I couldn’t go to a market and not buy something, right?! I’m a total sucker for anything lavender, so Tupelo Point was right up my alley. Adam, the owner, had a big bucket of cookies out for sampling and then sold the cookies (so, so good) and fresh lavender plants as well. I went home with both.
So after chatting and eating my way through the lovely farmers market, I’ve concluded that while Canterbury might not have a business “center” in town, business and community are still very much at the center of peoples’ priorities, minds and wallets. I love their slogan, “It takes a community to feed a community.” I was so happy to see and hear about the success of the market over its 13-year history, and I wish them all the best! If you stop by please tell them Erin sent you!
If you’re interested, check out the Canterbury Community Farmers Market on Wednesdays from 4:00 to 6:30 pm next to the Elkins Library at 9 Center Road. Visit their website here or their Facebook page to see what the upcoming market’s theme will be and any featured products or artisans.
Don’t live near Canterbury? VisitNH.gov has a pretty great list of other markets throughout the state. While August is technically NH Eat Local Month, I hope I’ve given you some ideas about how to celebrate all summer long. Let us know what delicious locally-made foods you find!