By Donna Rovins, The Mercury
Pottstown >> The Pottstown FARM market is gearing up for the opening of its 2017 summer season.
The downtown open-air market returns for a second season Thursday, June 1, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in the 200 block of East High Street.
The market will be open every Thursday through November, although the last scheduled market is planned for Tuesday, Nov. 21.
“We’re really excited for things to kick off this year. Most of our vendors are returning this year, which is exciting. We do have some new ones, as well,” said Sheila Dugan, executive director of the Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority.
The idea for Pottstown FARM actually began in 2015, as a grassroots initiative. The idea was initially raised by Pottstown resident Brian Steer — who then took the idea to Dugan. The idea picked up momentum, a committee was formed and the market made its debut in May 2016.
Returning customers will notice a few changes at the market this year, as well as some new features. The first change is in the dates of operation — the market is opening about a month later and staying open one month later. Dugan said that shift in dates will allow the market to carry a wider variety of locally produced items.
Another change is that the market will move to the other side of East High Street — a move that will provide the vendors and customers with a little more shade.
“We’re asking people to be patient as we work out the logistics this year,” Dugan explained.
Another change being made is in the number of special events that are planned. Instead of weekly, Dugan said special events at the market are planned for the last Thursday of each month.
Called “Almost Friday,” the last Thursday of each month will feature a theme, and will also include a farm to table meal at Smith Family Plaza, as well as a beer garden and live music.
“Chefs from local restaurants will shop at the farmers market, then prepare and serve the meal. Those events will require reservations,” Dugan said.
Two other new features have been made possible through a $15,000 grant from the Pottstown Health and Wellness Foundation.
“On the last Thursday of the month, kids 12 and under can participate in the ‘two-bite club.’ They try the product of month and Pottstown FARM will give each child a $5 FARM coin to spend at the market,” Dugan said.
Something else new is the SNAP incentive. Customers can purchase FARM coins in $5 increments at the market information booth. Dugan said customers that spend $5 with their SNAP card will receive a $5 FARM coin.
“These are both new for us — and aimed at helping the community be healthier,” she added.
Dugan emphasized again that the vendors are all from the Pottstown region and are self-producing — carrying products that are locally grown and produced. They are not carrying produce that is not in season.
“We don’t have a lot of tomatoes being produced by local growers at this time of year, so people shouldn’t expect to see them at the market now. We also don’t grow pineapples in Pennsylvania,” she said.
On June 29, Pottstown FARM will hold a PDIDA 5K Run to the Market. To register for the run visit www.pretzelcitysports.com.