Thursday, July 25, 2002

Local farmers take goods to market

Published in the Current

Farmers and gardeners from Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough make twice-weekly drives into the center of Portland for farmer’s market sales. On Wednesday, they and farmers from as far as Buxton and Hollis set up in Monument Square, opposite the time-and-temperature building, and on Saturdays they are in Deering Oaks Park.

They come for different reasons, but the money is good and the customers are steady.

Larry Bruns of Hanson Field Flower Farm, on Hanson Road, said he had a hard month in May, but is back up ahead of where he was last year. The weather not only hurt his crops, but also kept his customers in a wintry mindset.

“People were not in the mood to buy flowers,” Bruns said.

He said people appreciate the local aspect of the businesses at the Farmer’s Market, and often visit the farms where the produce comes from.

“I come to the Farmer’s Market basically as a form of advertising,” Bruns said.

Don McLewin of Dunstan Lawn and Garden on Route 1 has been bringing his farm’s produce to the market for 16 years. When he started, the market was next to the federal building, and moved twice before ending up in the square.

The Deering Oaks market has larger sales volume, McLewin said, from people who pull up their cars and do their weekly produce shopping.

The Monument Square market caters more to office workers, who buy flowers or smaller amounts of vegetables and fruits.

There are regular buyers, though, especially folks from Peaks Island, McLewin said. “You get so you know ‘em all,” he said.

Lester Jordan of L &A Farm in Cape Elizabeth has been at the market for 15 years, and said weather plays a big role in sales. “Now that the weather’s decent, it makes a big difference at the market,” he said.

Weather does more than influence the numbers of people who will walk through an open-air market, though. “It wasn’t a good spring,” Jordan said.

The wet weather meant many crops grew only shallow roots, and were easily blown over by high winds recently. “Some years they go well and some years they don’t,” he said.

And despite the hard spring, things are looking up for the summer. “We may recover,” Jordan said.