Reprinted with permisson:
J.K. Adams is proud to host The Dorset Farmer’s Market from October through May each year. The Dorset Farmers Market moved inside last weekend!
Throughout most of its history Vermont has been an agricultural state. The earliest settlers cleared trees to plant crops and used the timber for housing and fuel. Millions of acres of hardwoods were cut and cooked into charcoal.
Original settlers lived on small subsistence farmsteads on the hillsides as the valley were often marshy and wet. By 1800, Vermont farmers had cleared about 90% of the trees to create pastures for the millions of Merino sheep which would supply wool to the many water powered spinning mills along the rivers in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Wherever there was a waterfall, brick mills were built and filled with looms manned by immigrant laborers who created the fabric for a growing nation.
Sheep were eventually replaced by dairy cows and in the early 1900’s Vermont was known to have more cows than people. Then, with the improvements in transportation and refrigeration, the flat rich farmland of the Midwest began replacing New England as the low cost producer of most all agricultural products and Vermont’s landscape changed once again. Dairy farms slowly disappeared until only a few in the occasional rich flat valleys remained into the next century. Hillside farm pastures grew up in brush then back to forest or were developed into residential housing. Farming in Vermont seemed doomed.
Today, a resurgence of agricultural activity is building as people become more concerned and educated about the food they are eating. Is it healthy, organic, and humanely raised? Is it fresh? Is it local? Slowly and quietly small farms are coming back to life, growing everything imaginable and much of it is sold at local farmers markets. Every weekend during the summer several dozen local producers set up tables and tents and lay out colorful displays of meats and veggies. These markets became “the” local meeting place. There is often live entertainment and activities for the kids. The selection grows as the late summer and early fall ripens the produce and the harvest begins in earnest. Ironically the cold fall temperatures make it less and less pleasant for these farmers and shoppers to convene outside and attendance can drop off.
Many local markets close down for the winter. Some in larger towns and cities find an abandoned warehouse or grange hall to continue. The Dorset Farmers Market moves into our 35,000 square foot heated woodworking factory. The vendors set up shop among piles of hardwood parts and shiny modern woodworking machines. Nearly 20 years ago the JK Adams Co. decided to experiment with the market to try to draw more visitors (shoppers) to the factory outlet store. We invited some local crafts people and farmers to set up their wares on the Friday after Thanksgiving, a.k.a. Black Friday. The concept was an immediate hit. Several more years of black Friday markets occurred before it was decided to add the weekend market. Today, on every Sunday from mid-October until mid-May shoppers can find vendors selling the finest fresh produce & fruit, pasture raised meats, free range eggs, award winning cheese & wine, fresh baked breads & pastries, specialty jams & preserves, maple syrup & honey, an array of prepared foods and unique artisan wares. Often live music is played on the upper balcony outside The Kitchen Store’s retail space.
JK Adams charges the vendors a small fee to help defray the cost of heat and time spent rearranging the shop floor to make room each week. The farmers get a unique venue adjacent to a well know, local store with plenty of parking, bathroom facilities and possibly the most interesting exhibitor space in the Northeast. Customers love studying the machines and wood products in various stages of completion while they are shopping for Brussel Sprouts, heirloom apples and Asian spring rolls. This is a truly symbiotic cooperative arrangement that is a win-win for the farmers and the factory.
Please stop by the Market any Sunday from 10am – 2pm to check it out yourself!
The Kitchen Store at J.K. Adams
1430 Route 30, Dorset, VT
The Kitchen Store Hours: Monday – Saturday 9:00 – 5:30 and Sunday 10:00 – 5:00
-Malcolm Cooper, Jr.