Suzanne and Brian Dunham, co-managers of the Greenwood Farmers’ Market, sit at their vendor space. Suzanne Dunham said the market has proven successful in the winter, in part, because of ski traffic.

GREENWOOD — While many of the farmers’ markets in Oxford County are closing up shop for the season and waiting out the winter, the market here is attracting a healthy number of customers.

Suzanne Dunham, co-manager of the Greenwood Farmers’ Market, said it officially began in 2015 operating as the Western Mountains Winter Market at the Local Hub cafe in Locke Mills. The market shared a relationship with the Boondocks Buying Club, which also operated out of the Local Hub.

Dunham said that over time the market and the club outgrew the Local Hub and moved to the old town hall on Route 26, which the town offered for free.

In 2016, Dunham and her husband, Brian, who have sold goods from their farm and sugarhouse at the market since it started, began co-managing the Greenwood market and changed the name to Greenwood Farmers’ Market.

Shortly after the move to the town hall, Dunham said vendors and customers began approaching her about keeping the market open year-round.

“We were consistently having people coming up to us and saying that they wanted to try and keep the market going every week, even during the winter,” Dunham said.

At first, Dunham said the market remained open in the winter on Fridays when the Boondocks Buying Club was open.

“The buying club was there every other week, but after some time, people got confused when we were open, so we just decided to try it every week,” she said. “So far, it’s been pretty consistent in terms of how busy we are. We get a dead evening once in a while, but they’re few and far between.”

Success story

Other markets in Oxford County, such as Bridgton and Bethel, operate a winter market.

Steve Abbott, manager of the Bethel Farmers’ Market, said he began holding a winter market in 2016, though it tapered off toward the end of the season due to lack of vendors.

“We’re going to try it again this year,” he said.

Pat Martin, market liaison for Old Squire’s Farm Market in Norway, said the market decided not to stay open over the winter.

“Overall, most people come into farmers’ markets for the vegetables, and in Maine, it’s just not really possible to keep that going through the winter,” she said.

Dunham said she thinks that the success of Greenwood’s market in the winter is “a combination of things.”

“Greenwood is situated between two ski mountains: Sunday River and Mt. Abram,” she said. “A lot of seasonal people have homes in the Greenwood area during the summer and the winter, and we also have a lot of local people who show support.”

She said 4 to 6 p.m. Fridays seems to be a good time for a lot of people to shop.

“It’s the start of the weekend and the end of the work week,” Dunham said. “A lot of people are driving home from work and decide to stop by.”

Dunham said the market pays close attention to what is being sold at the market during the winter months to make sure there’s no overlap between vendors and that “everyone has something a little different.”

“We have one farm that only grows greens in cold weather, which is a nice transition when our other greens vendor stops growing for the winter,” she said. “We also have an artist that makes stocking stuffers just before Thanksgiving, and someone else who does gift arrangements for the holidays.”

She added that the Greenwood market “doesn’t charge a fee.”

“Instead, we try to make sure our vendors are people who will be here consistently every week,” Dunham said. “We have a good following, and people come looking for specific things each week, so we try and have the same people so customers can get what they expect.”

While Dunham said she was happy with the direction the market was headed, she is still looking for ways to flesh out the goods they offer.

“Right now, we have a good variety of products, but there are still gaps we want to fill,” Dunham said. “We’re trying to make sure we have everything covered.”

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