For the past almost three years, Sundays have been market days in Tiverton. Originally housed in the Sandywoods Community Hall, ven- dors congregate to share everything from fresh-caught seafood and farm-grown veggies to jarred, baked, or vegan treats. Patrons can sip a warm cup of coffee while perusing selections of hats made of alpaca wool, herbal teas, and nautical art, or snack on food truck bites while learning about sustainable farming practices straight from the source.
The TIVERTON FARMERS MARKET (TFM) sprung from a cultural moment when we were all craving connection, and it’s grown into not only a source of local produce and neighborly camaraderie, but also an educational experience of our food system – and director Meredith Brower made it all happen.
PANDEMIC SUCCESS STORY
“We had our first market on Tuesday, June 16, 2020,” recalls Mer- edith. “We worked together to get the Department of Health ap- proval to open during a pandemic.” The market took off from there and has since outgrown its original space. Last year it moved to Sundays (10am-1:30pm) at the Tiverton Middle School. The year- round market now boasts two locations, with the winter market running November through May at the middle school and at the end of May this year, a new outdoor location – the Tiverton Town Farm Recreational Area – will host the summer session.
“The market has grown to include local farms, food entrepreneurs, food producers, makers, artists, and local and non-profit entities,” says Meredith. “Local musicians perform every week, too.” Her goal has always been to foster community connections – and what better way to bring folks together than with food and art?
Along with the Sunday market, eight specialty markets focus on holi- days and seasonal themes, with an average of 25-35 vendors each week, upwards of 45 vendors for specialty markets, and the popular Harvest Market saw over 100. TFM has earned an Excellence in Business Award in the women-owned category from the Greater Newport County Cham- ber of Commerce, received state non-profit status in 2020, and received a Local Agriculture and Seafood Act (LASA) grant in 2021
And no two Sundays are exactly the same. “Each week you may find new and interesting vendors,” says Meredith. “All of them are local from the surrounding RI and southern MA area.”
“Before COVID, I was a freelance photographer and eco-artist,” says Meredith, who creates foraged designs via Firefly Mandalas, and hosts workshops. “The pandemic put a hold on that and the idea to create this market started.”
Along with managing a board of overseers and volunteers, “I handle all aspects of the market: social media, photography, marketing, finan- cials, grants writing, vendor relations, and communications,” says Mer- edith. She also fosters a space for engagement, offering regular work- shops and facilitating collaboration. Working with the Tiverton Land Trust for the Harvest Market, TFM offered Tent Talks on topics like honey production, land conservation, and organic farming, all led by vendors.
Someday Meredith also hopes to have a full-fledged art market alongside TFM. This year, she looks forward to the market’s third an- niversary in June, and she’s working on achieving 501(c)3 status. “It’s vital to know where your food comes from,” says Meredith – and a Sunday at the market is a great way to start.
Winter Location: 10 Quintal Drive, Tiverton; Summer Location: Tiverton Town Farm Recreational Area, 3524 Main Road, Tiverton, TivertonFarmersMarket.com
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