The Salem Farmers’ Market is a wonder for the senses. The dusky smell of a fresh tomato and the fragrant aroma of bunch of basil, locally grown. The colorful murals on Artists’ Row, painted by local artists. The delicious taste of a Napali rice bowl or the sweetness of homemade fudge. Live entertainment—music by local musicians and a 4:00 pm story hour for children.
All this can be found in historical Derby Square in downtown Salem, on Thursdays, 3:00- 7:00 pm until October 12th. Vendors’ tents and booths surround Salem’s Old Town Hall, which was built in 1816 (and was featured in the movie Hocus Pocus, but that’s a another blog post)! The market has about 25 vendors, and is about a 7-minute walk from the Salem Inn.
The Salem Farmers’ Market is following tradition—at its peak in 1930, 40 vendors sold goods to approximately 10,000 people each Saturday. In the early 1970s, the market closed, but opened once again in 2007. It caters to about 2,000 people each Thursday, locals and tourists alike. The word on the street is to come by 6:00 pm as vendors can and do sell out of their goods.
Most of the market’s vendors and farmers are from near Salem, and none are from outside New England. Farms as close as Beverly and Danvers (towns adjacent to Salem) are represented, and fresh fish and lobster come right from the Atlantic Ocean. You will find locally grown organic produce, hard cider and mead, freshly baked bread, New England honey, and cut flowers. In the fall cider donuts, squash, and dried flowers are available. There is also a different non-profit represented each week.
Salem Main Streets, a non-profit that promotes businesses, local events, and disseminating information to visitors, runs the Farmers’ Market. The market won the Best Farmers’ Market Award, Editors’ Choice from North Shore Magazine this year, and has also won People’s Choice Award in previous years. The executive director of Salem Main Streets, Kylie Sullivan, said that the intention of starting the market was t0 build community and give businesses a chance to grow. A number of businesses that started at the market have become brick and mortar shops and bakeries in Salem. Far From the Tree, a seller of hard cider, has a location on Jefferson Avenue where people are encouraged to sit and sip. Roseadela’s is now a nearby bakery that started out as a booth in the market selling syrups, chocolate, and sweets, and is now located in the nearby Museum Place shopping mall. Lulu’s Bakery is almost across the street from the market itself, on Derby Street.
All this writing is making me hungry! Since it’s Thursday afternoon, I’ll head to the market to pick up a few things and snap a few pictures. Hope to see you there!
~Jill Pabich, August 3, 2023