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Monday, Dec 11, 2023

Midd Summer Market brings local products to downtown Middlebury

The Midd Summer Market launched on May 19, offering the town of Middlebury a place to find artisan goods, fresh produce and local vendors. The market is located at Triangle Park by the fountain, and will continue running until Oct. 6. The market ran every Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m. during the summer, and now closes at 6 p.m. due to earlier sunsets in the fall. Recently, the market has added live music starting at 5 p.m. at the gazebo on the green to its list of attractions. 

Karen Dugay is the executive director of the Better Middlebury Partnership, the organization responsible for hosting and planning the market. She works closely with Nan Carpenter, the market manager, who is responsible for day to day activities at the market as well as marketing and vendors. 

As with any new endeavor, the market grew and changed over the summer. Coordinating different vendors and having a variety of goods without too much competition, for example, are skills that were honed over time, according to Dugay. 

The market hosts vendors — from craftsmen to farmers — and offers local goods like berries, jewelry and much more. There are also many food options available. 

Foxglove Farms is one local business participating in the market. Run by a husband and wife team, Foxglove Farms produces agricultural as well as artisan goods. 

“Foxglove Farm is a diversified flower and maple syrup producing farm,” Catherine Raishart, one of the owners said. “In addition to flowers and syrup we also highlight agrotourism on our farm with overnight stays and sugar house tours.” 

Raishart also makes and sells jewelry and is a photographer. Her work, along with other Foxglove Farm products, is sold at the market.

Earrings from Metal Nomad, sold at the market.

“My photography aims to capture the rural charm of Vermont and New England,” she said.

Foxglove Farms has been participating in the Middlebury Summer Market since its first week. Catie appreciates the family friendly atmosphere of the market, as well as the great food. 

“Sometimes my daughters and I find it difficult to figure out where we’ll have dinner each Thursday,” she said. 

She also appreciates the customer interactions enabled by the market.

“Business at [the] market is very customer-facing, and I really value that. Farmers’ market customers tend to be the most interested in engaging and lingering a little longer,” she said. “I’m glad that the market affords me the time to stop and talk to my customers; to learn about them,” she said. 

Solar Haven Farms, another vendor at the market, is a small berry and fruit farm owned by Barbara Wilson in Shoreham, Vermont that has been operating since 2011. In addition to selling fresh produce, Solar Haven Farms offers a variety of products made from their fruit. 

“In my commercial kitchen, I create homemade vegan frozen desserts, such as sorbet, ice cream sandwiches and popsicles,” Wilson said. “I also create single batch jams, chutneys and specialty mustard sauces.” 

Wilson also sells a line of easily prepared gluten free oatmeal and jam cookie bars, as well raspberry jam chocolate brownie mixes. She said she prioritizes sustainable agriculture, and makes desserts with less sugar than other comparable products.

Solar Haven Farm does not have a storefront, thus most of its products are sold at farmers markets and similar events. Wilson chose to participate in the Midd Summer Market rather than the Vergennes Farmers’ Market, which takes place at the same time. 

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“I was very excited that this market started and wanted to support it,” she explained. “The park setting is so welcoming. It is great to see so many folks come out and enjoy what this market has to offer and to socialize with their friends and neighbors.” 

Besides farmers’ markets, Wilson’s products are sold at specialty stores in Middlebury, Bristol and New Haven, as well as purchased directly from the farm by appointment. She hopes to soon sell her products in the new ShireTown Marketplaces.

Some Middlebury students have already visited the market. After hearing about the market and seeing it on a drive through town, Olivia Mueller ’24, checked out the farmers market on Sept. 1. 

“My favorite part [of the market] was the atmosphere,” she said. “There was live music, vendors selling all sorts of food and goodies, some with samples, as well as jewelry, clothing and other artisanal goods.”

Mueller visited the market with a large group of other students, and suggested that while a decent number of students have heard of the market, it is likely not as well known as the Middlebury Farmers’ Market, because the summer market is newer. She enjoyed the easily-made connections at the market. 

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Vermont Pure CBD, a vendor at the market.

“It’s really special to be able to strike up conversations with community members and small business owners because on campus it’s very easy to fall into a bubble of not getting out and interacting with the community,” she said. “The opportunity to find unique, handmade items like jewelry, headbands and other accessories and home goods is exciting too and feels a bit more personal.” 

This opportunity for connections between Middlebury students and members of the local community was intentionally created, Dugay explained. The Middlebury Summer Market aims to welcome everyone. 

“We definitely want locals and visitors alike, and we’re going through Oct. 6 specifically because we wanted to give college students something to do on Thursday nights and bring them into the downtown,” she said.

Reflecting on the market overall, she added, “My favorite part is seeing downtown alive with people strolling around, grabbing food, enjoying the music and stopping to chat with people they know,” she said. “It really feels like the embodiment of what I love most about this community, which is the connections we have here.”

Editor’s Note: Olivia Mueller ’24 is an Arts & Culture Editor for The Campus.

Julia Pepper

Julia Pepper '24 (she/her) is the Senior Local Editor. 

She previously served as a Local Editor. She is a Psychology major and French minor. This past spring she studied in Paris. She spent the summer interning at home in New York City, putting her journalistic cold calling skills to use at her internship doing outreach with senior citizens. In her free time she enjoys reading and petting cats.