Last Thursday’s sunshine made the perfect spotlight for the Milton Farmers’ Market which officially opened for the season at the Hannaford plaza.

Sixteen vendors selling everything from fresh veggies to cheesecake in a cup showed to the weekly shopping event, held every Thursday until October from 3:30 to 7 p.m. outside the supermarket.

This is the market’s second year operating on a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant that provides the Power of Produce Club, a tent where kids can make arts and crafts with fruits and veggies.

The idea is introducing everyone – of all ages and demographics – to the state’s fresh bounty of produce, said Keely Agan, the market’s new manager.

“We’re all Vermonters, and we all really care about each other and we’re all community members,” she said. “It’s such a cool way to … keep the money local, which is what we’re all striving for.”

Thursday afternoon, Agan sat behind the registration desk and exchanged debit, EBT and SNAP credits for tokens to shop at the booths. She was especially excited about the market’s Crop Cash, which gives SNAP recipients up to $10 in free produce, herbs, seeds and starts.

“Does everybody know about this?” one woman asked excitedly, accepting the gift card and wheeling her grandson toward the vendors in his stroller.

And there was plenty of produce to choose from. At Beaudoin’s Farm Stand, shoppers smelled the herbaceous scent of fresh-picked tomatoes. The vendor is one of three from Milton, market staffer Sophie Duncan said.

But others came for the bread, like Flora Hurteau of Georgia. She has her own vegetable garden but goes to markets on the lookout for soy- and nut-free items to serve her grandson, who is allergic.

Teresa Lewellen makes a purchase from the Wally’s Place Bagel and Deli tent at Milton’s Farmers’ Market on Thursday, June 7. (Courtney Lamdin | Milton Independent)

Paula Bradley, who works at Wally’s Place Bagel and Deli in South Hero, is also on the market’s steering committee. Her favorite part of vending at farmers’ markets is interacting with customers, she said.

“They’ll recognize me. Like, I know these people,” she said, gesturing toward incoming customers.

Kim and Dennis Hamel of Milton approached as if on cue.

“We always stop here,” Kim Hamel said. Dennis Hamel said many vendors have told him they like selling at Milton’s market because of the friendly shoppers.

Agan agreed that’s a great draw.

“[Customers are] teachers from your school, it’s people from the town and people that shop at Hannaford,” she said. “It’s such a cool family experience.”

The market kickoff also included a free community dinner, bounce castle from SunCommon and live music from The Smokey Newfield Project. Each week the market will host a different band or group.

And it’s on, rain or shine, every week.

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