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A Year in the Life of a Canterbury Community Farmers Market Board Member/Volunteer

It’s a beautiful (or not so beautiful) Wednesday afternoon in Canterbury, NH. You may have seen all the yellow Canterbury Farmers Market signs out, received an email or seen social posts about the Canterbury Community Farmers Market that’s open from 4-6:30. You are planning your day and have to decide whether or not you'll be going to the Farmers Market. Your decision should ALWAYS be to GO! Here is why………..

It took over 24 Volunteers to get the market ready for you to enjoy. Over 24 Volunteers who spent numerous hours above their regular full-time jobs, tending to their families, keeping their households running, help provide healthy food, support to local farmers/vendors, community connections, entertainment, and so much more to you and your neighbors in Canterbury and surrounding communities.

It all starts in January, Annual Meeting Month. The board members scramble around to compile stats, pictures, and highlights from the previous season to create an Annual Report. A location is secured to house the Annual Meeting. The board works hard at planning the evening, like who will bring what, who is to help set up/clean up, info regarding the night is emailed, mailed, and posted on social media. The report is created and printed off for members to review at the meeting. Hours of multiple days are spent getting ready for this event.

A new year also means that the Library must get booked for the upcoming Board Meetings that are held once a month except during summer market months. Before each meeting, we compile info to discuss at the meeting and an agenda is sent out to all the board members before they meet. We meet each month for several hours to discuss market details for the upcoming season. Vendor applications are updated, emails are sent to vendors to see if they are interested in coming back, and we review and vote on any new vendors that apply. We come up with what events/special guests we might want to book for the coming season. We work on musician recruitment. Themes are set for each week. We contact volunteers to see who can help out with setup/takedown/signs. We set a budget. We work with the Loudon Food Pantry to determine the value and amount of Food Vouchers. We get an advertising plan set for the season and to promote the opening day.

It's getting closer to the opening day!! We have to get the market trailer moved to the library, set up advertising, email members and blast social media sites regarding what vendors will be attending and what they'll have at the market. A group of folks put signs out several days ahead to help folks find the market and to help advertise. On the day of the market, we determine if the weather is safe for the market to open. One board member is in charge of making and bringing tea for patrons. A handful of volunteers and board members arrive early to layout and measure where the vendors will be placed. Volunteers help guide vendors to their spot and then help them set up. It’s a Rain or Shine Market, so if it’s raining cats and dogs, yup, these folks are still there to help AND if it’s 100 degrees out, you guessed it, they are still out there helping.

They also run wires and set up the Music Tent, put out large signs by the road and help set up the Market Info Tent. Board members ensure the Info Tent is set up full of tokens, Square is up and running, membership lists are updated, member applications are out, tea is set up, children's activities are out and ready, chalkboard is updated with music and theme info, the clicker (person counter) is in position, dog water bowls are out and we are ready for the market to open. The cowbell rings!! Enjoy!

Board members enjoy the market but are also keeping the info tent going, making sure vendors are happy, making their own personal purchases to support vendors, mingling with guests, renewing or getting new memberships and so much more. Near the end of the market, the treasurer goes around and collects vendor fees and exchanges any tokens they have received. On the weeks that Mary Ellen’s Basket is out, board members were in contact with the Loudon Food Pantry to receive a family that resides in Canterbury to receive the basket, arrangements are made for pickup. Once the cowbell rings at closing, volunteers and board members rush in to help vendors pack up, get all market tents and items packed back in the trailer and ensure the lot is as clean as we found it. This goes on every week, multiple people have their hand in helping our market run as smoothly as possible from June to October.

It’s October, wow, where did the season go?? Is it really over?? Well, the board members meet and go over the season, what worked, what didn’t. We get the trailer moved to its winter location and we start planning for the Winter Markets. Advertising goes out for the winter markets that include all the vendors and offerings. Music is lined up. Communication between CES for use of gym and families are picked to receive goodies from Mary Ellen’s Basket.

Winter Markets are similar to the summer markets, board members and volunteers show up early to get space set up and laid out for vendors. Snacks and hot drinks are made for the vendors that are provided by the board members. Tables are set up for some vendors, info table is set, signs are put out and volunteers are ready to help arriving vendors. Volunteers help unload and bring in goods to the gym of CES. They help set up vendor tables, they help get vendors parked where they need to be, to allow enough room for visitors. We all enjoy our market as usual and then it’s breakdown time. Volunteers and board members get to work to help vendors get packed up and moved out to their vehicles.

The Canterbury Farmers Market is one of the best small Markets around. It doesn’t happen by chance, it happens because we have so many willing and generous community members in Canterbury that really care about providing local food and art to our community. Community members that care about local farmers and how important it is to keep them running. Community members that want locals to “Shop Here First” to help keep our local economy going strong. Community members that care so much that they volunteer hours upon hours of their time each week to help out a community that they love and support.

So, if you have not come to the Canterbury Community Farmers Market or you are contemplating if you should come, please do. It shows support to so many and who doesn’t love a weekly dose of fresh local food, live music, sweet treats, and so much more! Be sure to also thank the volunteers that help make it happen!!

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