The Somerville farmers market scene is expanding this spring with the addition of the Assembly Farmers Market, which will launch its first season in June. Assembly joins the Union Square Farmers Market and Somerville Winter Farmers Market, which are also run by Relish Management, as well as the Davis Square Farmers Market and Somerville Mobile Farmers Market.
“We’re very excited,” said MaryCat Chaikin, who will coordinate the market with Mimi Graney through Relish. “We’re working really closely with Assembly Row. They’re committed to having their neighborhood be a resource for people in Somerville. They very much want it to be by the community, for the community.”
Those familiar with the Union Square Farmers Market will find that the Assembly Farmers Market feels familiar. It promises to have a full line-up of produce vendors as well as local food producers, musicians, activities and community booths. Food vendor applications are being accepted until March 15, with applications for other groups coming later in the season.
“We work with organizations in Somerville who want to come out and promote themselves,” Chaikin said. “We select our vendors based on a lot of factors to create a really friendly environment where the vendors are invested in the market. We used the same approach in Watertown last year and it was very successful.”
The new Assembly Farmers Market will serve an area of Somerville that has few grocery options. It’s a walkable destination from East Somerville, Ten Hills and Station Landing, and will be right in the Assembly Row residents’ back yard. Others can drive or take the T to the Assembly Row stop on the Orange Line that opened last year.
“We hope it’s a great grocery resource for the area,” Chaikin said.
The market will be located on the street adjacent to J.P. Licks and River Bar at Assembly Row and will spill over toward the arches that frame the Mystic River. The Assembly Farmers Market will be open each Sunday from June 7 through October 25 from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
“We want it all to feel very connected,” Chaikin said. “Assembly Row is set up to have a great brunch scene that we’re hoping to be a part of. You can stop by the market before or after.”
Assembly Farmers Market will also offer SNAP matching benefits to patrons, and with Relish now managing three of Somerville’s markets (Assembly, Union, Winter), customers paying with SNAP or by credit/debit will be able to use the same tokens at all of them. Chaikin emphasized that the markets are always seeking SNAP donations, large or small, that all go straight to low-income families shopping at the markets.
“We’re doing a consistent SNAP match [$10],” Chaikin said. “Low-income families can expect the same product and same service at all three markets. Everyone can have a bit of a more fluid experience with payments.”
While Relish is looking forward to the summer market season, Chaikin said the Somerville Winter Farmers Market is still going strong. It’s open from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Arts at the Armory (191 Highland Ave.) every Saturday in March.
“The winter season has been really challenging on farmers and they appreciate all the support they can get from those direct sales,” Chaikin said. “It’s been such a hard winter and to have something that’s been in walking distance has been a nice break from cabin fever.”
And this year’s changes, like offering prepared food at the market (which may come to Assembly and Union in some form), have been going over very well at the Winter Market.
“Attendance has been great this year,” Chaikin said. “We increased the number of farms, which was a bit of a risk. But it kept people coming back every week. It kind of put the emphasis back on produce. It feels so vibrant and alive.”
Relish hopes to bring that same feeling that they’ve cultivated at the Winter and Union Square Markets over to Assembly when it opens in June.
“People who are familiar with [Union Square] will kind of recognize those values in Assembly Row,” Chaikin said. “Working with [Assembly Row] has shown they’re really committed to Somerville. It’s really authentic. We want it to be a community gathering space, a destination.”
P.S. Vendor applications for the Assembly Farmers Market and the Union Square Farmers Market are due on March 15. The Union Market will open with some vendors on May 16 (the rest will join the market on June 6) and it will run on Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. through November 21.