Spring has arrived which means we are eager to see the start of another farmers market season in our community! This month’s featured organization puts a spotlight on the Kennett Square Farmers Market.
Now entering its 20th year in operation, the Kennett Square Farmers Market is one of the central meeting places and weekly events in lovely Historic Kennett Square. The Kennett Market takes place every Friday, 3-7pm, and is located on the 100 block of East State Street and the Genesis Walkway. Starting at 3pm on market days, Farmers Market customers are welcome to park on any level of the parking garage. Metered street parking is also available before 5pm, and after 5pm, street parking is free at metered spots.
In this interview with Ros Fenton, Kennett Square Farmers Market Manager, we learn about plans for the upcoming 20th anniversary season and what it takes to run a vibrant farmers market in the 21st century.
Harvest Market: Please tell our readers a little bit about the Kennett Square Farmers Market.
Ros Fenton: Our farmers market is a program of Historic Kennett Square, the nonprofit organization that promotes, encourages and enhances the economic, community and social vitality of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.
Harvest Market: How did you get involved?
Ros Fenton: A friend connected me to Historic Kennett when they were seeking a new Market Manager in the fall of 2016. I have been a regular customer of the market since moving into the area in 2012, and I am a committed supporter of farmers markets and local food wherever I go. My professional background being in design for consumer spaces (food retail and restaurants), I had never managed a farmers market before, but the timing and the fit seemed right. As I head into my 3rd season, I absolutely love being involved in the Kennett community in this way, and I am learning so much as I go!
Harvest Market: With a new market season approaching, are there any new additions or changes you’d like to talk about?
Ros Fenton: I have been working to “fill out” our offerings while creating good balance and variety week to week, especially since some vendors only participate part-time. We have a fantastic lineup of returning farms and producers who love our community. There are a few new part-time vendors this season: Day Spring Farm sheep’s milk cheeses plus felted wool items, Little Goat Coffee Roasters, Honey & Rose Bakery, and Rosie’s Kettle Corn. We are happy to welcome back dairy producers new to Kennett last season and well-received by our customers: Collective Creamery (cheeses made by Birchrun Hills Farm and Valley Milkhouse) and Fiddle Creek Dairy (amazing yogurts and milk)!
I am also working to add some ready-to-eat options for Friday shoppers who want to grab a quick bite at market after work while getting what they need for meals in the coming week. Natalie’s Fine Foods truck and Vesta BBQ will join us certain Fridays. Taste of Puebla continues to have their delicious hot tamales each week, which have been a hit! And there are places to sit and enjoy the market vibes as you eat.
Lastly, we also have a new website in the works, enabling customers to access general information about the Market and additional details beyond our weekly newsletter.
Harvest Market: What special events can the community look forward to this year at the market?
Ros Fenton: This is our 20th season in operation! We will be doing some special things to celebrate that accomplishment throughout the year, beyond the special events listed below. All of our events usually include hands-on activities for young people as well as educational and tasting opportunities for all. Keep an eye out for more details!
- May 3rd: Weekly Season Opening
- June 21st: Pollination Celebration
- August 9th: National Farmers Market Week
- End of September: Fermentation Fest with special producers and demos
- Oct 11th: Apple Harvest Celebration
We always look forward to having Harvest Market participate in some of these events and share some seasonal demos, too!
Harvest Market: How does supporting your local farmers market support farmers and producers?
Ros Fenton: By supporting a producer-focused market like ours, you are purchasing directly from the small family business who grew or made what you’re buying. This is a critical distinction in a time when conventional big-box stores advertise “local” foods. When you purchase from one of our producers, you know the hard-earned money you hand over is benefiting them directly—no middlemen or additional processors are taking a chunk of their hard-earned profit. You are essentially nurturing the “roots” of our local food system!
Harvest Market: What are some of the defining characteristics of the products at the farmers market that set them apart from items you’d find at a conventional grocery store?
Ros Fenton: You can literally shake the hand that feeds you and get to know the producers, which is a benefit conventional grocery stores do not offer! You also get tuned into the seasonality of food and taste the flavor difference in something that was picked within days or even hours of market versus being handled by multiple processors and shipped across the country or the world!
The market is also an opportunity to try unique varieties of apples, tomatoes, lettuce, etc. not available in the grocery store. For example, not all blueberries taste the same, and different varieties ripen at different times! You can talk with your farmer about this at Market and explore different flavors across the seasons.
Our prepared food options, baked goods, etc are “made from scratch” (in licensed kitchens) by the folks selling at Market, and we strive to have high quality, relatively healthy options available without the preservatives and unnatural ingredients found in processed, factory-produced grocery store items.
Harvest Market: What aspect of market coordination is the most inspiring to you? And the most challenging?
Ros Fenton: Working with the farmers and producers is incredibly inspiring, as they are so dedicated to making a living doing what they love in spite of many challenges. The shared sense of community amongst our vendors is also a beautiful thing. They are always helping each other out and truly care for each other and for their customers. Seeing customers and producers build relationships around food is inspiring.
One of the biggest challenges is ensuring that our market is meeting the needs of as much of our community as possible (timing, affordability, access, etc.), while making it sustainable for the producers to keep coming. Limited budget and time to do all the programming we would like to provide at Market is also a challenge. We appreciate any support the community can provide by spreading the word and helping us continue to grow!
Harvest Market: If you could grant one wish to our community, what would it be?
Ros Fenton: To enjoy something locally-grown (and ideally green) on your plate every day!
Harvest Market: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our customers and staff at Harvest Market?
Ros Fenton: I would just encourage people to learn more about farmers markets and local food systems and why it’s so critical to support them. Eating with the seasons and purchasing anything you can directly at market takes a certain level of commitment and mindfulness that isn’t always “convenient” in today’s busy world. But as you intentionally make it a part of your life and routine, it becomes easier and incredibly fulfilling on so many levels!