The smell of fresh strawberries filled the air at the opening of the Harvard Allston Farmers’ Market last Friday. The event announced the return of local farmers to University markets in both Allston and Cambridge. The Cambridge market opened next to the Harvard Museum of Natural History on Tuesday.
On opening day in Allston, customers picked from a range of produce, fish, breads, and treats from small businesses throughout the state.
Since its launch in the summer of 2008, the market has been a place for Allston residents and the Harvard community to connect with local farmers and artisans. This year it is strengthening its ties with the Harvard Allston Education Portal, which will work with farmers to create educational opportunities around food and nutrition for families who visit the market.
Dragonfly Farms, E.L. Sylvia Farms, and Proofed, a bread business based in Norton, were among the vendors returning to the market. Newcomers included Sweet Lydia’s, a source for marshmallow treats, and Red’s Best Seafood.
The market has been a hit with residents. Jessica Habalou has been a regular the two years she’s lived in Allston. “I was stoked to find out it was starting again,” said Habalou, who bought strawberries.
Vendors were also excited for the start of the market season. Red’s Best was selling fish as part of a city of Boston pilot program. “For the first time since the original Faneuil Hall Market Place closed its doors in the mid-1900s, Boston residents, workers, and visitors will be able to purchase fresh, healthy, day-boat fish in a vibrant urban market setting,” said Mayor Thomas Menino in announcing the initiative. “This is truly an exciting program that expands access to healthy foods and represents a culinary option that is unique to Boston.”
Said company CEO Jared Auerbach: “Red’s Best is excited about the opportunity to facilitate the connection between local fishermen and the general public through Boston’s farmers’ markets. The mayor and his office have done a wonderful job putting this together and the entire city will benefit.”
Susan and Frank Ventura, who run Dragonfly Farms, look forward to offering a range of produce as the summer continues. Kale and strawberries are currently their most popular offerings. Customers will soon find spring onions, carrots, squash, cucumbers, broccoli, peppers, cantaloupe, and watermelon.
Edward. L. Sylvia was raised on his father’s farm and founded E.L. Sylvia Farms in 1973. At the Allston market, he sells tomatoes, basil, rosemary, lettuce, potatoes, zucchini, and squash.
Lydia Blanchard’s Sweet Lydia’s offers marshmallow treats made from scratch. Best-sellers include candy bars and s’mores in a variety of flavors, such as toasted coconut marshmallow, chocolate peanut butter, raspberry, white chocolate, and caramel.
Across the river, the Cambridge market this summer will go beyond fresh food to feature programming for children, with help from the Harvard Museum of Natural History.
Said Louisa Denison, Food Literacy Project coordinator for Harvard University Dining Services: “We are looking to celebrate our new neighbor by collaborating on programming so customers can see influence from the museum on the market and vice versa.” Programs focusing on animals, oceans, and the Earth will include interactive demonstrations.
The Allston market runs 3 to 7 p.m. Fridays until Oct. 26 at North Harvard Street and Western Avenue; the Cambridge market is noon-6 p.m. Tuesdays until Oct. 30 at 26 Oxford St.