About Wrightstown Farmers Market
To provide a thriving outlet to connect consumers and producers of local, sustainably grown food products so that it strengthens community and the local farming economy.
A Special Farmers Market is Planted, Grows and Thrives
On September 29, 2006 the newly founded Bucks County Foodshed Alliance held a Harvest Festival at the Middletown Grange Fairgrounds in Wrightstown to kick off the Wrightstown Farmers Market, a new kind of farmers market that would inspire numerous others in the county.
Farmers and Consumers Deliberate
The idea for the market had been spawned at meetings in the summer of 2006 when new local farmers who were growing using organic practices or with animals on pasture met with community members to discuss ways to work together to promote local, sustainable agriculture and to facilitate connections between local farmers and local consumers. The farmers often were renting land, in off-the-beaten-track locations and needed access to markets and help educating consumers about why their products are superior.
The farmers and consumers had come together after members of the new Anchor Run Farm CSA in Wrightstown were so impressed with the flavor and quality of the vegetables they were receiving from the CSA that they wanted to be able to get meat, dairy and eggs produced locally without harmful products as well. They were also excited by the friendships they had made through the CSA, and they liked using their food dollars to support the local community and local farmers.
When the farmers at the early Foodshed Alliance meetings expressed a need for more markets, the seed was planted for a market geared only for locally grown or produced products and which would give priority to agricultural products grown without fossil fuel dependent chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides and animals grown humanely and the way nature intended. Many of the participants at the meetings already understood the damage that is done to our health, air, water and climate by agricultural systems that rely heavily on irrigation, extensive packaging, processing, long distance shipping and concentrated animal feeding operations. Others recognized the many benefits of supporting local farms, which are still being lost at an alarming rate. They wanted to build an alternative, local, healthy, sustainable food system that would increase local resiliency and food security.
The other component of the market would be a strong commitment to building community. Local musicians would be engaged for weekly entertainment. Organizers dreamed of tables and chairs where people could relax and converse with friends and neighbors.
The Harvest Festival kickoff
The fourteen local farmers and vendors who participated on September 29, 2006 and the Foodshed Alliance organizers were astounded by the enthusiastic reception and resounding success of the day. Farmers sold out and a number went back to the farm to harvest more. The parking lot was jammed during the six-hour event. Pumpkin and face painting, live music, horse drawn hayrides and door prizes, in addition to the myriad freshly harvested, Bucks County farm produce and pasture raised meats and eggs, attracted the crowds. News of food poisonings, antibiotic resistance, hormonal interference in humans and more had created a pent up demand for the products the market sought to supply.
At the time there had been only two other local farmers’ markets in Bucks County – the 32-year-old market in Doylestown Borough run by the Buckingham Civic Association and the younger Plumsteadville market, held at the Plumsteadville Grange. Although in operation for years, neither were well known-south of Buckingham, nor did they prioritize farmers who did not use pesticides or herbicides--an issue of great importance to those organizing the Wrightstown market.
Buoyed by the success of the Harvest Festival, the farmers and Foodshed Alliance organizers made plans to open the weekly market on Memorial Weekend in 2007 and run the market each Saturday until Thanksgiving. The location would be the Middletown Grange fairgrounds in Wrightstown, which was well known in the community for fun and agricultural events, and seemed fairly centrally located between farmers and the population that desired sustainably grown products and had little access to local farm products.
In the meantime, the Foodshed Alliance resolved to continue showing documentary films about the food system and bringing in educational speakers to help the community understand some of the health and environmental concerns about the present system and the benefits of locally produced food. The tours of local, sustainable farms were added in 2008 to help people relate to know their farmers, learn more about their products and practices, and appreciate the food they grow and produce for us.
The Market Grows and Expands
In 2007, the first full year of the market, attendance and sales grew. Unfortunately, the Middletown Grange required that the market move to the nearby elementary school six times that year. Confusion arose with people looking for the farmers market at the dog show at the Grange, not being able to find the elementary school, etc. In 2008, the Foodshed Alliance moved the market to its present location on the grounds of the Wrightstown Township Municipal Offices at 2203 Second Street Pike. The exception to this has been during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 when the market moved back to the Middletown Grange for space considerations.
The regular weekly market on Saturdays from May through Thanksgiving led to the first winter farmers’ market started in Bucks County for local farm products. The very first winter two vendors responded to customer demand, took pre-orders and delivered orders from the backs of their vehicles at the regular location during the winter. The winter market they began has flourished, now hosting 24+ vendors, including six bringing fresh produce grown right here in Bucks County in the dead of winter! Pre-orders are usually an option through our newsletter, but they are not required, and hundreds of shoppers come on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays from 10-12 in winter.
From its humble beginnings of ten to fourteen vendors, the market has grown each year and now supports a diverse array of more than 30 vendors. The flavor, purity, quantity, quality and diversity of the offerings are outstanding. Despite a very limited budget for publicity, attendance has multiplied over the years. Hundreds come regularly to purchase their weekly groceries, meet friends and neighbors, connect with their farmers and enjoy the day.
Over the years, the Bucks County Foodshed Alliance, the 501(c)(3) organization that founded the market, has remained the parent organization for the market and closely involved in maintaining the mission of the BCFA through the market. The BCFA continues to hold free educational programs for the community throughout the year to build connections, collaboration and support for a local, sustainable food system.
In 2014, a new market manager was welcomed, Cheryl Gilmore. Cheryl took over from Robin Hoy, who had run the market, initially as a volunteer, from its inception, with the hard working and capable assistance of her husband, Mike. Cheryl’s husband Geoff is now also an integral part of the market’s support. Cheryl has brought lots of fresh ideas to the market, and expanded it greatly. We look forward to its continuing growth and prosperity.