The Dirt on Somerville’s Farmers’ Markets

By Deb Fraize

Everybody wants one. Somerville has two.

Communities all over the Commonwealth are vying to establish farmers markets of their very own, competing with one another for local farmers and their ultra-fresh produce. But there are simply not enough to go around.

Between 1978 and June, 2009, the number of farmers markets in Massachusetts grew from 10 to 185, with 24 new markets so far this year, says David Webber of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. The Davis Square market (which actually started in Union Square) was one of the earliest on the scene, starting in the late 70s. Union Square’s own market is now in its fifth year of operation.

The growing popularity of farmers markets makes good sense all around. The farmer gets to sell directly to the consumer, cutting out the middleman, and the consumer gets fresher, locally grown produce. (Produce purchased from the average grocery store travels nearly 1,500 miles to get to your refrigerator, burning lots of fossil fuel along the way.) Also, the farmer pockets only a small fraction of what you pay for that travel-weary tomato.

And farmers markets don’t just mean more money in farmers’ pockets. According to Mimi Graney, executive director of Union Square Main Streets, the organization responsible for coordinating the Union Square Farmers Market, the market has a major impact on brick-and-mortar businesses in the square. By her estimation, the Union Square market generates $500,000 in annual revenues, split roughly equally between local businesses and the farmers. That sounds about right to Hannah Freedberg of the Federation of Mass Farmers Markets, the group responsible for the Davis Square market. According to Freedberg, farmers markets in the United States generate at minimum one dollar for local retailers for every dollar spent at the farmers market itself.

For Tommy Nicewicz (pronounced “Nishway”), part of the third generation running Nicewicz Family Farm in Bolton, Mass., participating in farmers markets has made his work more interesting and his business more diversified. Up until the 1970s, Nicewicz Farm was primarily a wholesale operation selling Macintosh apples to large chain stores like Winn Dixie. Everything ripened at the same time, leaving but a short window to harvest and pack all those Macs. Over time, the farm began to diversify its fields, expanding its offerings and staggering its harvest times. Today, farmers markets account for 70-80 percent of its business. The Nicewicz family has participated in the Davis Square market since 1988 and now also takes part in the one at Union Square.


Tommy Nicewicz loves coming to Somerville. “It’s one big family day,” is how he describes Saturdays at the Union Square market, where most of the customers are families from the immediate neighborhood. At 4:45 on Saturday mornings, Nicewicz is awake picking the corn and lettuce he will sell later in the day. “We start picking as soon as we can see it,” he says.

Look for a bleary-eyed Nicewicz at the Union Square farmers market starting in mid-July, when his first crop of the season, blueberries, ripens. In addition to his blueberries, you will find a wide range of products mostly grown or produced in Massachusetts (a couple of items from other New England states are there too). Union Square Main Streets and the Federation of Mass Farmers Markets monitor the products at the Union Square and Davis Square markets, respectively, for quality and provenance. And as the season’s production intensifies in July and August, the selection and volume explodes at both markets.

In addition to organic and conventionally grown vegetables, berries, and tree fruits, both markets offer herbs, cut flowers, potted plants, pasture-fed meats, cheeses, honey, baked goods, chocolates, and handicrafts. Davis Square is the slightly larger market, with a bit more variety. If that’s not enough to entice you, the markets often feature music and other entertainments. And if you’re worried about having too many bags to carry home – and you don’t want to drive either – a Somerville business called Metro Pedal Power (11 Olive Square, ) provides eco-friendly, bicycle delivery service at the Union Square market. They’ll eagerly bike home your produce, should you find your arms overwhelmed by the bounty our city has to offer.



  • Every Wednesday, 12 to 6 pm (5 pm in November)
  • May 27 through November 25
  • Day and Herbert Streets (behind Redbones)
  • Payment accepted: cash, WIC coupons

2009 Vendors

  • Blue Heron Organic Farm, Lincoln
  • Crystal Brook Farm, Sterling
  • Enterprise Farm, South Deerfield
  • Farmer Al, Lancaster
  • Fiore di Nonno, Somerville
  • Hanson Farm, Framingham
  • Hi-Rise Bread Company, Cambridge
  • Kimball Fruit Farm, Pepperell
  • Land’s Sake Farm, Weston
  • Nantucket Wild Gourmet & Smokehouse, Chatham (new)
  • New Breadsong Corner Bakery, Auburndale
  • Nicewicz Family Farm, Bolton (starting in mid-July)
  • River Rock Farm, Brimfield
  • Taza Chocolate, Somerville
  • Urban Kitchen, Jamaica Plain
  • Yang Family Vegetables, Fitchburg (starting in mid-June)
  • For more information:


  • Every Saturday, 9 am to 1 pm
  • June 6 through October 31 (including July 4)
  • Union Square Plaza (Washington and Prospect Streets)
  • Payment accepted: cash, Union Square market tokens, WIC coupons

2009 Vendors

  • B&R Artisan Bread, Framingham
  • Cook’s Farm Orchard, Brimfield
  • Drumlin Farm, Lincoln
  • Fiore di Nonno, Somerville (new this year)
  • The Herb Lyceum at Gilson’s, Groton
  • Kimball Fruit Farm, Pepperell
  • Nicewicz Family Farm, Bolton (starting in mid-July)
  • Parker Farm, Lunenberg
  • Silvermine Farm, Sutton (new this year)
  • Siraco Sharpening Service, Somerville (second and fourth Saturday of the month)
  • Stillman’s Farm, Lunenburg
  • Taza Chocolate, Somerville
  • Yang Family Vegetables. Fitchburg
  • For more information:


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