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Acton's Farmers' Market: ten years old and thriving

As a testament to its longevity, ten years have passed since the first Downtown Acton's BIA Farmers' Market was held one block south of where it is located today. Besides offering locally grown produce and baked goods, the weekly market place is also an outlet for local artisans to exhibit their handicrafts, and an opportunity for community service groups to rent a stall and get their messages out. Willow Street North is closed to vehicles 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Thursday, June to October, as vendors take over the boulevard, setting up their tables and putting up awnings. Acton's Farmers' Market is the brain-child of Josey Bonnette who was manager of the Acton BIA from 2000 to 2015. “I always wanted a farmers' market,” she said. “I think they can be a good draw for a downtown. So in January of 2010, I approached the [BIA] board about it and they said, 'Go for it'.” “Some people wanted it in the parking lot of the [Olde] Hide House, but I wanted it on Willow Street because it's the busiest part of downtown, ” added Bonnette. “Also, some of the vendors wanted it to be held on Saturday, but not the area farmers who are already booked at farmers' markets in Georgetown, Guelph and Milton on Saturdays. That's how we decided on Thursday afternoons.” Bonnette fondly recalls some of the monthly-themed events that included a Strawberry Shortcake celebration in June, Canada Day activities, and a harvest festival in October where she dressed up as a scarecrow. “We'd bob for apples, something to get the kids and their parents downtown,” she said. “We also had a Sprouts Club for kids where kids could win tokens for getting their passport stamped. Another time, one of the honey vendors brought a demonstration hive containing live bees.” The Acton farmer's market has changed locations three times over the years. Local vendor Angie Tremblay took charge of the event during 2017-18 and moved it to the Bethel Church parking lot in the east end of Town. She continued the tradition of hiring children's entertainers and introduced “Goat Yoga” which proved very popular. Downtown Acton BIA resumed control of the market in 2019 and moved it to Willow Street North where it remains today. Logan Smerek of Smerek Family Gardens in Acton has been selling her root crops and lettuces at the market since 2011. “People continue to support the market and we've got some new vendors. This location seems to be working well, more people seem to be coming out, ” she noted. Lisa Alonzi, also known as the “Sausage Lady,” has been a vendor at the market since day one. “I think this is the best location we've had,” she said. “I recently added some sweets like donuts, apple fritters and lemon cake. Our salamis and our pretzels are still the big sellers. Attendance has been pretty good the last few weeks, and I think BIA coordinator Alex Hilson deserves some credit. He's been working hard and bringing in new vendors. If we can survive COVID, we can survive anything.” Local potter Janice Dalziel of ZenDen Pottery Studio thinks that the pandemic has actually helped the market because people feel safer distancing outdoors. “I had a woman stop by my booth with her son and tell me Thursdays used to be soccer nights and they were looking for something to do. I'm also seeing a lot of new faces and attendance is up.” “I'm a big believer in gardening and supporting local growers. I don't think our market will ever be huge, but it's a market and people love it,” added Josey Bonnette.





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