ACUSHNET — There’s music in the air, rising above the hum of a woodturner’s lathe as a child’s spinning top is carved out of a block of wood. The breeze passing through the Acushnet Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning also carries the smell of fresh flowers, and the subtle fragrances of hand-crafted soaps and lotions.
And then there’s the alluring aroma of bacon sizzling on a grill wafting up from beneath the No Joke Smoke BBQ tent as the first breakfast sandwiches of the day are served up.
The farmer’s market is really flourishing in the new season, having added about a half dozen regular vendors to the Leonard Street site, said Stone Bridge Farm owner Scott Harding, who hosts the market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday from June to September.
Local fruits and vegetables, herbs and honeys, and a variety of fresh-baked goods were all in abundance by the first Saturday in July. The previous week’s morning thunderstorms may have dampened attendance a little, but both the vendors and the shoppers were out in full force on July 1. “We were all here... It really is a rain or shine farmer’s market,” suggests market co-manager Joanne Harding.
Right at the entrance, once past parking lot attendant and unofficial “market ambassador” Roland Field, visitors are treated to a woodturning demonstration by members of the Gateway Woodturners Club of West Wareham.
On this morning, demonstrator Ian Manley was nimbly turning out simple red, white and blue children’s tops on his lathe, or carefully fitting the top into a small round box he had just carved out with a sharp chisel.
Some of his wares, along with dozens of artistic wooden bowls, cups, pens boxes, and wine bottle toppers produced by a half-dozen members of the club are offered for sale in a nearby tent. The creative wooden ware on display attracts as much attention as the spinning lathe turning out new creations.
The market exposure, and the steady sales, are welcomed by club members, who also use the farmer’s market demonstrations to promote their craft, and to introduce lots of newcomers to the hobby, said club officer Daniel Manley. He specializes in crafting custom pens from various interesting bits of wood, and had several of his beautiful wooden bowls up on the shelves that morning.
The woodturners’ club meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month in the workshop behind Cape Cod Antiques, on Route 28 in West Wareham, Daniel said. “We’re all about teaching... we love to have people come,” the son added.
“Anybody is welcome to come to the meetings and learn” about the craft, his father Ian Manley noted.
Members swap blocks of wood and bits of surplus equipment, and coach newcomers in basic skills. “We stress safety first,” then the basics, he said.
Stroll on past the veggie displays, the flower and honey vendors, and the bakers and soap makers and smoothie makers, and an open field welcomes you to the big tent at the rear of the market, the source of the sizzling bacon smell mentioned earlier.
Four-year veteran cooking demonstrator John Larsen of Acushnet is happily back again for this market season. On this particular Saturday morning, he was prepping a lesson on using fresh eggplant for Bouranee Baujaun, which he described as “a great veggie recipe from Afghanistan.”
Gently fried with other veggies, the spicy eggplant mixture topped with a creamy yogurt sauce was guaranteed to draw a crowd for the free samples being offered up at the end of the demonstration.
“And it’s an easy vegetarian dish to make,” Larsen said as he prepped his dish for the upcoming demo.
At the other end of the tent, No Joke Smoke Barbecue owners Ryan and Sharon Nahas of Swansea are also glad to be back at the Acushnet Farmer’s Market for the 2017 season.
“We do very well here, and are glad to be back. We do four or five markets a week” this time of year, Ryan noted. “We’re barbecue gypsies ... the main thing is getting the word out about our sauces.”
The couple has just signed a contractor to produce the No Joke Smoke BBQ’s best-selling barbecue sauces in 90-gallon batches for retail sale in supermarkets, Ryan said. “We’re already available in seven markets,” he proudly reported.
The wholesale operation was made possible by the company’s winning the South Coast “E For All” (Entrepreneurship For All) Contest, as the prize was $4,500 in start-up funding for the shift to commercial production. So far, the limited production of the firm’s trademark SaWeet Sauce, along with Pineapple Blush, Strawberry Habanero, a mango-based blend, and a popular honey mustard sauce for retail sales and marketplace use, have all been brewed up at the Dartmouth Grange’s commercial kitchen, he noted.
For the summer season, the couple is adding a fig stout sauce, based on a local craft beer, and a Blueberry Blast sauce, Ryan said. Seasonal ingredients are always a priority for the special sauces, he confided.
When doing business at a local farmer’s market, that’s the perfect attitude for a popular vendor to have and hold dear.