A Hug From the Hilltowns holds first farmers’ market, plans to grow

— Photo from Jean Guarino
Jean Guarino, left, watches over a table at the Hug From the Hilltowns Farmers' Market on May 18.

BERNE — Although A Hug From the Hilltowns’s first farmers’ market, held Wednesday, May 18, at the Helderberg Lutheran Church, in Berne, was relatively quiet, “all in all, it was a success,” co-organizer Jean Guarino told The Enterprise this week. 

Guarino, president of A Hug From the Hilltowns, a community charity group, put together the event with Peggy Christman. The market will be open each Wednesday until Oct. 19,with a wide variety of vendors and participants, including the Blessings Café food truck, Mountain Winds Farm, and Henriecka Farm Center, she said. 

At least four more vendors will set up after May, including two farmers who don’t yet have produce to sell.

More vendors are welcome and they don’t need to be local to Berne, said Guarino, pointing out that the food truck traveled 45 minutes to get to the first market.

In addition to vendors, Guarino said, events  will be held at the market each week. Next Wednesday, for instance, there will be cookie decorating, and the week after that there will be a seminar on womens’ personal safety.

Also, the first Wednesday of each month will feature the Kids’ Entrepreneurship Program, where “we are encouraging children to come and set up a table and sell their talents,” Guarino said, adding that the kids are allowed to participate free of charge. 

At this week’s inauguration, a representative from New York State Senator Michelle Hinchey’s office came to deliver a proclamation on behalf of the senator, who, as chair of the Senate’s agriculture committee, has been vocal about the need to incorporate local produce and other agricultural products into communities statewide. 

“Hugs is growing and we owe it all to the community members as well as our fellow pantries, [Helderberg Family and Community Organization] and the awesome volunteers who work each week to put a smile on people’s faces,” Guarino said. “Without all that  love and support we couldn't continue to do what we do.”

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