Kiana Joler / Student Life Editor

As the Farmers’ Market of Keene ended its summer season, the decision to cancel the winter season was made.

Throughout the warmer months, vendors have managed to maintain the market during the summer season. The usual hours of Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Tuesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. didn’t waver, despite the unexpected events caused by COVID-19.

However, the same can’t be said for the winter season. Typically, the hours change at the end of October to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and vendors set up shop inside of Monadnock Waldorf School. This proved to be an impossible feat this year. Lizz and Zack Whittaker, co-owners of Whittaker’s Homestead and Greenhouses, explained how COVID has presented some struggles.

“There’s not going to be a winter farmers market this year. We can’t get a facility for the winter because of COVID. It costs a lot to keep it clean,” Lizz said.

Although this decision is for the greater good, this could negatively impact businesses who rely on the market staying open for the extra two months.

While the market’s hours didn’t change, some businesses still took a toll from the effects of COVID-19 during the summer. The Whittakers, for example, faced a major problem with the shipments of their plants.

“A quarter of our plants we couldn’t get, just because to get shipments from overseas they had to have a certain amount of plants on the plane, and because of the amount that was ordered– it didn’t meet that quota, they just cut the plant entirely. It was probably close to two grand worth of plant sales that we lost,” Zack said.

Not only that, but the fluctuation of people that came through the market changed wildly each day.

“Not a lot of people come out because of COVID, so days are high in sales and then there’s days where it’s low in sales,” Lizz said.
Jeremiah Bickford from Abenaki Springs Farm had a similar experience at his stand.

“It was a slow start, and then it was really good in the middle, and now it’s pretty slow as you can see,” said Bickford.

What was once an overflowing market with white tents lining the streets now had less than ten vendors remaining. Both of these stands have been struggling with the traffic of customers, and now as the days get colder and shorter, commerce has begun to dwindle.

Alternatively, some vendors like Nicole Williams from Nikki’s Rabbit Hole Co. try to look on the bright side of their season.

“I’ve met some new people and I’ve gotten the word out that my artwork is here, so it’s been great,” Williams said. “A bunch of my shows have gotten canceled this year, so kind of sad, but I’m still out here, so that’s good.”

Although Williams has faced obstacles due to COVID, she is happy to have new customers at the market and showed a positive attitude for the traction she got this season.

Williams doesn’t currently have any vending plans for the winter season, but will continue to maintain her website and social media. The Whittakers also have no future plans, but will be happy to help someone who calls for a house plant. Bickford’s farm, on the other hand, has already started planning for the challenges ahead.

Abenaki Spring Farms has an online store currently for produce, and shoppers can pick up their orders at their roadside farm stand in Walpole on the closest pickup date, which is specified during checkout. This is an alternative that some other vendors will also partake in.

“The market does have a website, with all sorts of information,” said Deb Waldinger, the Coordinator of the Farmers’ Market of Keene. “We are planning on adding links to the online presence of some of our vendors.”

This information will soon be found on Farmer’s Market of Keene’s website and on the website of The Local Crowd Monadnock, which is a community-based platform to help support local businesses and organizations, according to the website’s about section.

For more information on all three of these businesses, visit their websites and social media. They can all be found on Facebook at their business names, where there are direct links to their websites. They can also be found on Instagram, @whittakershomestead, @nikkis_rabbit_hole, @abenakispringsfarm. To find out more about the Farmers’ Market of Keene, visit their Facebook @keenefarmers.


Emma Bishop can be contacted at:

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