Spruce Street Market Hosts Another Successful Season
The Spruce Street Market is a local favorite for farm-fresh fruits, vegetables and a variety of prepared food from small businesses. The seasonal market is run by the Town of Manchester during the summer months of July through August 19th, open every Wednesday from 4:30-7:30 PM rain or shine. This past season was one of the most successful in the market’s history, drawing a greater crowd of both local community members and visitors from nearby towns.
Nestled into Market Field, alongside the Spruce Street Community Garden and East Side Neighborhood Resource Center, the market allowed for social distancing across the large field and provided masks and hand sanitizers for all venders and patrons.
On the sunny day of July 29th, 423 people attended the market to get some fresh air, buy locally-sourced produce, and enjoy the sense of community. This turned out to be the highest attended market in its 4-year history. The average attendance throughout the summer was 321 people, all coming and going throughout the hours of 4:30-7:30PM.
Several vendors noted that the success was likely due to the market’s new location on the open, grassy Market Field as well as increased digital marketing, spearheaded by new Market Coordinator Cynde Acanto. “2020 brought us the most attendees and SNAP purchases in our four-year history. We stepped up our Facebook game and added an Instagram account. We had great customer engagement with both,” said Cynde.
Not surprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic played a large role in the turnout of the market. The option to grocery shop outside and away from the crowds of indoor grocery stores likely appealed to many market-goers. In addition, the government’s increased distribution of SNAP benefits to families whose schoolchildren were sent home early led to an overall increase in individuals with SNAP benefits to spend on produce.
“We were happy to provide a safe, outdoor food shopping option for our guests while supporting our local farmers and food vendors. We had amazing feedback, with our guests expressing they were so happy that our market was open this year (during the pandemic) and that they could interact with our farmers and food vendors from a safe distance,” said Cynde. “We also experienced a much higher than average usage of SNAP benefits.”
Each summer, the Spruce Street market offers shoppers the option to take out tokens using credit/debit cards or EBT cards (SNAP). Patrons can then use these tokens to purchase items at any of the market vendors. In addition, the market matches SNAP up to $10 (spend $10, get $20 worth of fresh produce). This double SNAP benefit allows families to buy even more fresh and locally-sourced produce. This past summer, the market had the highest total of Double SNAP Reimbursements, with over 4 times more incentives redeemed than during the 2019 season.
The list of vendors this past 2020 season included:
- Amazing Ackee vegan Jamaican patties
- Birch Mountain Farm
- Bussa Orchards
- DeLuca Family Farm
- Dondero Orchards
- Fox Meadow Farm
- Hungry Lion food truck gluten free
- Granny’s Pie Factory
- Jojo’s Cookies
- Keifer’s Kettle Korn & Italian Ice
- Masks by Debbie
- Lobster Tails food truck
- Twice the Spice
- Vsoulful Eatery vegan wings and carrot cake
- Wilkinson Farm honey and syrup
Several of the market’s vendors were also profiled by the Journal Inquirer this season as a part of the Meet the Vendors series. Check out these great articles on some of the amazing vendors and their journeys!
- Family fun becomes growing business for Wilkinson Farm
- Keifer’s Kettle Korn pivots to farmers markets during pandemic
- Bolton woman turns her sewing skills into mask-making business
- Heirloom tomatoes the specialty of Bolton’s Birch Mountain Farm
- Enfield mom launches artistic cookie business in her kitchen
- Baker combines vegan with Jamaican heritage to create unique food
With the success of this past summer’s market, the Town of Manchester is all the more excited for next season and to once again offer locally-grown produce, farm raised eggs and meats, fresh baked goods, and delicious prepared foods for the community. Not only did the 2020 market offer fresh and tasty food, but it also provided a sense of community and joy in during a difficult time. “Our 2020 market season was our best attended yet. We are already planning for 2021 and hope to extend our season,” said Cynde.