MANSFIELD -- Only a month into its annual summertime farmer's market, the North End Community Improvement Collaborative has suspended the weekly Wednesday event due to a lack of produce.
NECIC’s teaching garden coordinator and community garden organizer Mona Kneuss believes this season’s rains have either delayed or damaged local farmers’ crops. She’s heard stories from former vendors and even noticed the organization’s community garden is struggling compared to previous years.
“I know weather has played at least some role,” Kneuss said. “Maybe their plants aren’t producing or they got flooded out.”
The mission of the farmer's market, she explained, is to provide access to fresh food in the North End. With maybe one, two, or more often no food vendors besides a local honey distributor, she can’t justify continuing the event.
“Without produce, it’s more of a flea market, and that’s not what we’re trying to do,” Kneuss said.
In recent weeks, she’s noticed several vehicles drive slowly by the market, located at 417 Blust Avenue, but few have stopped. She says it appears people are looking to see if there’s produce yet. The answer nearly every time is still no.
“We take applications early. So in May, we had applicants and had expected to have vendors. But I just talked to one and they told me the tomatoes are maybe only three-feet high,” Kneuss said.
NECIC’s community garden, featuring tomatoes, squash, lettuce, cucumbers and more, seems behind schedule, too.
“Everything seems a little slow this year. It’s almost like they stalled because of all the rain," Kneuss said. “The only thing that seems to be doing really well is the potatoes.”
The farmers market has been held annually since 2014. It has never experienced such a problem to date.
At this time, Kneuss hopes some successful farmers will step forward as potential vendors or that other producers may catch up by the end of July.
“We are a food desert, a fresh-food desert. We just got the KV Market, but that’s our only local source. We are considered a fresh food desert,” she said. “So it’s our mission is to enrich the North End by providing an option to get healthy, fresh food.”
Anyone interested and able to be a vendor is encouraged to call 419-564-3594.