Wellesley has tried out different farmer’s market models over the years in an effort to come up with a viable business relationship between health-conscious shoppers and area farmers eager to serve them. The model that has so far stuck has been the partnership with Vermont-based Farmers to You (FTY), which works with about 60 New England farms that provide fruit, vegetables, cheese, milk, and other food products year-round at three Wellesley locations — UU Wellesley, Babson College, and the Wellesley Office Park.
The FTY online-ordering way of accessing pesticide-free food directly from farmers seems to suit Wellesley. In a classic farmer’s market, individual farmers set up tables and ring up sales. That way has a lot going for it including picturesque charm and the advantage of shoppers getting to know the farmers who produce the food that ends up on the family table. But after a couple of tries in Wellesley, first in the Whole Food parking lot (now there’s corporate confidence), and then in the UU Wellesley parking lot, it became clear that it just wasn’t working for the vendors. In summer and during school vacation weeks Wellesley empties out, so farmers were left with an uneven flow of business. Many of them decided to leave Wellesley and set up at markets with a reputation for having a more reliably even customer base.
How you can pick up farm-fresh food in Wellesley
Working with FTY, families order what they want online and the food is delivered every Thursday by truck to the UU Wellesley pick-up point. There, a Wellesley volunteer checks off names and hands out the organic and specialty meats, eggs, Jasper Hill and Grafton Village cheeses and other dairy products, baked items as well as fruits and vegetables, all direct from FTY partner farms.
Emails are sent out to customers, or “partner families,” as FTY calls them, on Friday to let them know what products are available. Orders are then placed by partner families by Sunday, farms receive orders on Monday, food is packed on Tuesday to be delivered to Wellesley on Thursday. There are over 20 drop-off locations in the Boston area.
“It’s a great way to run a farmer’s market-type program all year, and there’s no fee to join,” said Janine Malone, Wellesley resident and volunteer. “We have 45 partner families at the UU Wellesley pick-up location. Today 18 families are picking up. It’s low because so many people are away for school vacation week.” Each Thursday, Malone meets the truck and hands out food to the partner families. The program has been running since late 2017.
Keeping it clean
Sometimes, celebrities even show up at a Wellesley drop-off point. When I stopped by UU Wellesley, cookbook author Mia Moran was there handing out samples of her Fushia Bean Dip, and White Bean Cake, with accompanying recipes. Moran’s book, Plan Simple Meals, Get More Energy, Raise Healthy Kids, and Enjoy Family Meals has over 50 recipes for gluten-free, plant-centered, low-sugar foods coupled with action steps for how to create a rhythm that fits good food into busy family life.
Moran says she before she embraced healthy eating for herself and her family, “I was exhausted. I operated in survival mode most days, always felt short on energy and time, and was at my wits end by the time I was supposed to get dinner on the table.” From there she made gradual changes and now preaches the gospel of balance and nutrition. But how do her recipes taste? The beet dip was creamy and smooth thanks to its whir in a high-speed blender. The one-cup cashews to three-beets ratio cut the natural sweetness of the beets while adding a good dose of protein to the mix. And I never would have believed that the cake’s mainstay was Great Northern beans if I hadn’t seen the ingredient list myself. Both options were delicious, as kids who joined their moms on the FTY pick-up run agreed.
In addition to the UU Wellesley drop-off point, FTY drops off at at Babson College, and the Wellesley Office Park at 55 William St.
If you’d like a nearby farmer’s market experience, I highly recommend stopping by the Natick Farmer’s Market, which runs year-round every Saturday, 9am – noon. In the colder months vendors sell out of the Common Street Cultural Center at 13 Common St. Starting in May they take it outside to the Natick Commons.