MOFGA gets growing with new market in Freeport

What began as a pop-up retailer final winter is now a everlasting, year-round market operated by Maine Natural Farmers and Gardeners Affiliation.
The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Affiliation has discovered a everlasting residence for its natural market in Freeport, providing Widespread Floor Nation Truthful merchandise, meals gadgets, kitchenware and handmade items together with new workshops.
Counting on the success of its pop-up retailer on the town from November 2020 to January 2021, MOFGA opened the everlasting location on the Bartol Library constructing at 55 Important St. this summer season and had an official opening Nov. 18.
The Maine Natural Market has about 50 distributors, together with Celebration Tree Farm in Durham; Casco Totes, which makes tote baggage  from recycled sails and relies in Freeport; and Salt + Wool, a Brunswick firm that makes hats with a mix of wool from alpacas and Coopworth sheep. Among the many different merchandise are bowls, utensils, towels, soaps, notecards, maple syrup and jams.
Lucy Cayard, the shop supervisor, mentioned the market offers another for distributors who often promote on the Widespread Floor Nation Truthful, which has been canceled two years in a row as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. The honest plans to make a comeback Sept. 23-25 subsequent 12 months.
“We actually hope it offers one other sustainable and productive marketplace for the distributors,” Cayard mentioned. “All our distributors live and dealing in Maine, so it retains the cash native.”
Copper Tail Farm, primarily based in Waldoboro, simply began promoting its merchandise, which embody goat milk lotion and a goat milk caramel sauce referred to as cajeta, on the market in October.
“Up to now MOFGA has been nice and simple to work with. We had respectable gross sales in October,” the farm’s Christelle McKee mentioned. “I selected to take part for the reason that in-person honest was canceled and I assumed the purchasers who shopped on the MOFGA retailer could be prospects inquisitive about my merchandise.”
MOFGA, a statewide nonprofit that educates about and advocates for natural agriculture, is also providing new, in-person, workshops on the market. Lessons in natural tea mixing, garlic braiding and wreath making have been held because it opened in July, and three extra workshops are earlier than the brand new 12 months. All occasions may be discovered on MOFGA’s web site at mofga.org. Cayard mentioned she hopes the workshops assist make {the marketplace} extra of a “neighborhood area.”
“I hope it exposes folks to completely different sorts of merchandise made in Maine they usually see the big selection of issues we produce within the state,” Cayard mentioned. “I additionally hope it offers folks a brand new “in” to MOFGA and perhaps they arrive see our honest within the fall. I’d wish to see the neighborhood broaden right here.”
City Supervisor Peter Joseph mentioned {the marketplace} is strictly the kind of enterprise the city wished to fill the area that previously housed Abercrombie & Fitch, which closed final summer season. The informal clothes retailer was considered one of many companies to shut store in recent times within the city identified for its outlet shops.
The emptiness price for companies in downtown Freeport was 12.38% as of June this 12 months, Keith McBride, govt director of Freeport Financial Improvement Company informed the Instances Document in June. That’s in comparison with a emptiness price of 8.6% in 2015.
“We gave plenty of consideration to native companies and nonprofits that may use the area and never be as aggressive as a retail outlet,” Joseph mentioned. “We did that as a result of there’s been a giant push on the town to recruit and fill areas with small distributors which have a neighborhood taste. MOFGA matches all these classes. They do a terrific job supporting native producers and artisans and bringing all these sorts of individuals to Freeport was actually compelling.”
Related shops within the space embody Royal River Pure Meals in Freeport and Morning Glory Pure Meals in Brunswick. Laughing Inventory Farm, a farm in Freeport that sells native, natural produce and meals, not too long ago closed its doorways for the winter for the primary time in 25 years. It’ll reopen in spring 2022.
Regardless of the potential for native competitors, Cayard mentioned Freeport is a perfect location for the shop because it’s a “shopping-focused city.” She mentioned enterprise was gradual when the store opened in July however began to choose up in October and has remained busy. With the vacations and understanding how busy they have been with the pop-up retailer throughout this season final 12 months, she expects enterprise to stay optimistic into the brand new 12 months.
{The marketplace} is open seven days every week from 10 a.m. to five p.m. Monday by Friday; 10 a.m. to six p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Cayard mentioned hours may change after January, so buyers ought to test MOFGA’s web site for any updates.