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A New Bounty for the City of First Thanksgiving

By David Boegaard

Plymouth, Massachusetts has been offering locally-grown, farm fresh produce for a long, long time. For a few hundred years, since the time this beautiful city on the coast was first settled by Mayflower pilgrims, local produce was the only kind that was available. Plymouth was the location of the first Thanksgiving! But with the introduction of interstates, factory farming, and larger and larger "supermarket" grocery stores, local farmers spent decades working to make themselves viable for the larger market.

Often, that meant reducing the quality of produce so it was bigger or more "normal," using tons of pesticides and herbicides and nitrogen fertilizers, then harvesting produce while it was still green. We all like oranges and fresh vegetables in the winter, but too much has been lost in a search for efficiency.

That's why people in Plymouth established the Plymouth Farmers' Market. Open on the 2nd Thursday of each month in the Winter and weekly in the Summer at the Plimoth Plantation, the Farmers' Market offers a wide variety of seasonal produce. With their help, the people of Plymouth have been able to recall the deliciousness of fresh foods and reconnect to the seasonal changes of their local climate. The Farmers' Market has also been a boon to local farmers, creating a thriving local marketplace that benefits everyone in the region.

Since it's founding twelve years ago, the Plymouth Farmers' Market has beeing growing strong ever since. Today, says Dave Purpura, Market Manager for Plymouth Farmers' Market and Owner of Plato's Harvest Organic Farm, they have "a strong, supportive customer base, high quality local growers and food artisans, family programming, music, community and business partners, and a beautiful grassy field provided by our wonderful host, the Plimoth Plantation."

One of the The Plymouth Farmers' Market's greatest strengths is its rich selection of organics. The Market supports four certified organic vendors, offering produce, flowers, and meat, among other things. "The community has access to the most organic choice of any other local market," notes Purpura with pride.

But the Plymouth Farmers' Market does not only supply customers with organics. Purpura lists some of the items one can find in a normal week: "produce, fruit, eggs, poultry, pork, beef, lamb, seafood, honey, cheese, soap, flowers, baked goods, prepared foods, coffee, gluten-free foods, and they can even order a wood-fired oven baked pizza and get their knives sharpened." With this kind of selection, the Market can supply nearly everything one needs for a week of meals.

Ultimately, the value of a great farmers market is more than just the produce that you take home. "They are also supporting their local community, keeping agricultural land in agriculture, and enjoying beautiful afternoons in the fresh air and sunshine with like-minded community, while gathering their groceries for the week," says Purpura.

The Plymouth Farmers' Market serves as a wonderful place for a family outing, and a community hub. With the beautiful location on the Plimoth Plantation, it is hard to imagine a more picturesque spot for a lovely afternoon outdoors. And the benefits of buying local ripple out. Customers get great food. Farmers are sustained in healthy and sustainable agricultural practices. And the money remains in circulation within the community, able to help support other local businesses.

When asked if Purpura has a particular recipe, he seems evasive. "I'm a certified organic produce farmer, so my stock recipe for anyone asking about any vegetable is 'saute it in olive oil, with salt and a handful of garlic right at the end.'"

But Purpura's oil, salt and garlic saute is not a joke. As every great chef knows, the best seasoning is great ingredients. That's why Purpura puts so much emphasis on the Plymouth Farmers' Market's quality. "Shoppers coming to the market will find the freshest, most nutritious, most delicious food that can be found anywhere."

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