BLUE HILL — On June 24, the Halcyon Grange presented its annual Community Citizen Award to the Blue Hill Farmers Market. The purpose of the award is to recognize “outstanding service to this community and mankind.” This marks the first time the local Grange has honored a group instead of an individual with the award. Heather Retberg, current master of the Halcyon Grange, explained why, sharing language from the preamble of the Grange constitution. “The soil,” she read, “is the source from whence we derive all that constitutes wealth; without it we would have no manufacture, no commerce. Of all the natural gifts of the Creator, the various products of the vegetable world are of the first importance. The art of agriculture is the parent and precursor of all arts, and its products, the foundation of all wealth.” As all commerce arises from the soil, the Blue Hill Farmers Market exemplifies a marketplace with its roots in farming that has grown to include many other “forms of manufacture and commerce,” creating not only economic benefit to the community, but also social wealth.
The market began 42 years ago on the lawn of the Town Hall, then moved to the bank and, finally, to its current location at the Blue Hill Fairgrounds. The founder of the market, Mollie Birdsall, had a vision of a marketplace to gather the community, provide nourishing foods for families and serve as a meeting place for friends. When it began, its cornerstone was the farmers and food producers, but the market has grown today to include live music every week, prepared foods from burritos to breakfast sandwiches, donuts to baked goods and handmade arts and crafts by local artisans.