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Watertown farmers market to launch four-month season

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The Farm and Craft Market in downtown Watertown kicks off its 36th season today with 53 vendors on Washington Street.

Organizers have raked in money this year to promote locally grown food.

The Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce will soon hire an assistant market manager and bolster its advertising campaign for the market this summer thanks to a $9,961 grant from the state’s FreshConnect program.

Lynn M. Pietroski, the chamber’s CEO and president, said the funding will be aimed at spreading awareness to low-income families and providing better customer service. Additional checkout machines will be available for customers to make purchases with EBT cards, and the chamber will bolster its advertising campaign using print and broadcast media.

“We have about 10 vendors who offer EBT benefits and want to add more,” Mrs. Pietroski said.

The market continues to have a loyal following from local families shopping for fresh food, Mrs. Pietroski said, and vendors who have been setting up stands for years. In 2012, between 500 and 600 visitors stopped by the farmers market on Wednesdays. More than half of this season’s vendors have attended for five years, while about 30 percent have appeared for more than a decade.

“Our goal is to build on that success,” she said.

Diversity is also a goal at the market, Mrs. Pietroski said, which features a range of fresh produce, handmade crafts and live entertainment. Ten local farmers are participating this year, along with an array of crafters and small businesses.

“To diversify what is sold there is our ultimate goal,” she said.

The market will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Wednesday through Oct. 2.

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