The tree-lined canopy on Davisville Road is one of the most picturesque scenes in our community. This Rockwellian snapshot of a charming country road produces a lasting image of the bucolic and pastoral setting that is Falmouth. A quick glimpse at that scene, though, belies the rich agricultural past that is draped over this historic and beautiful neighborhood.
Davisville Road, like much of East Falmouth, was once a mecca for farming and agriculture. Bustling farms producing strawberries and other local produces dotted the landscape throughout East Falmouth. Walking to school at East Falmouth Elementary, I used to cut through an old, worn path through a meadow whose dark, abundant soil formerly served as the earthly assembly line for Falmouth’s premier produce. That meadow is now a subdivision, but the memories and impact of that era still weave themselves into our local identity. In addition to its colorful tapestry of science and tourism, Falmouth’s nearly four-century story has an agricultural chapter that goes back generations. That chapter continues to be written, as farming and agriculture continue to be colorful tiles in our local mosaic.
These colors shine brightly weekly when the Falmouth Farmers Market is in session on Main Street. Located in the heart of our downtown at Peg Noonan Park, the Market has become an important showcase for our agricultural roots – and the produce blossoming today from those roots – since its inception in 2008. According to the Market’s website, the mission of this fantastic weekly event is to, “feature(s) Cape Cod and Southeastern Mass. grown and artisanally crafted vegetables, fruits, cheeses, lobsters, breads, pies, pastas, smoked fish, herbs, vegetable starts and ornamentals.” Fresh, local, and made with care, love and cultivated with human hands. What can be more supportable – and sustainable – than that?
I had the pleasure of speaking with Farmers Market Board member Patricia Gadsby this week, and am now even more convinced that this local effort, which has become a local agronomic institution, is a critical element in the continued success of our downtown. Patricia shared with me some of the history and good works of the market, including their “prodigious” support of the Falmouth Service Center. More than 3,500 pounds of locally cultivated produce was donated to Falmouthites in need in the last year. That’s community. That’s the circle of life. Patricia told me the heartwarming story of a young Falmouth boy, who while attending the Farmers market on one of the many school trips that visit the market each season, stood in front of the colorful array of fresh, local vegetables, and simply blurted out, “Yum, yum, yum!”
Commissioner of Agriculture Greg Watson, himself a Falmouthite, has noted that our agricultural future depends on the success of small, local farms and family friendly produce. The Falmouth Farmers Market embraces that concept, providing access to locally grown, non-industrially produced sustenance that also contributes to our local economy – a daily double of agrarian success right in Falmouth Village.
Our local decision makers deserve credit for supporting the efforts of the market – and now have an obligation to continue that support. On Monday night, the Farmers Market will appear before the Board of Selectmen for their annual permit to operate at Peg Noonan Park. Some rumblings have been heard that a seed may have been planted to move the market away from the downtown, perhaps to Marina park, to reduce congestion. To take this thriving commerce out of our downtown would go against every tenet of support for local agriculture and the very raison d’etre of the market itself. Patricia pointed out in our conversation that the current location is near public transportation, close to the bike path, and nicely complements the thriving restaurants on our Main Street. It has also become an attraction in itself, bringing visitors and shoppers to our retail hub.
For all those reasons, and more – not the least of which is sending a strong message of support for the kind of sustainable future our own Commissioner Greg Watson has spoken about – the Board of Selectmen should bet on this daily double of agrarian success and loudly proclaim support for the Falmouth Farmers Market – in Falmouth Village.