Tables with people eating lunch at Bennington Community Market.
Patrons enjoying lunch at the Bennington Community Market. All Photos by Phil Holland

March 31, 2023

In Bennington, the tiny ruby flowers of the Red Maple are open for business at the tip of every twig. Downtown is opening up too, after a snowy March, with a new food market now attracting locals and out-of-towners alike.

That would be the Bennington Community Market at 239 West Main St., one block from the center of town. Residents wanted a market where they could walk to buy a loaf of bread and shop for local produce.

Now they’ve got one, and more besides.

A Boar's Head deli case at Bennington Community Market.
The deli case at Bennington Community Markt.

Three weeks after the March 9 ribbon-cutting, the market already stocks more than a thousand items, including local meats, local veg and greens, milk and eggs from family farms, local cheeses and dairy specialties, local honey and maple syrup (natch), and delectable bread baked right on the premises.

What had been a downtown food desert now has its oasis, one that also serves hot meals and that is open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

A grant to Bennington College from the Andrew Mellon Foundation to help address local food insecurity got the ball rolling. A non-profit organization was born, and community fundraising followed, well into six figures.

The kitchen staff of Bennington Community Market.
The Bennington Community Market Kitchen in action.

The market comes with a mission that is both agricultural and social: “to support local farmers, increase access to healthy food for all members of our community, and contribute to the revitalization of downtown Bennington,” according to the website.

The prices are mostly on the higher side relative to local supermarkets, but the Community Market accepts SNAP benefits and expects WIC authorization any day. A portion of profits from sales and memberships goes to a Healthy Food Access Fund for neighbors in need. It’s all part of the Bennington Fair Food initiative.

Beautiful farmer’s tables from the former Krijnen Bakery anchor one end of the spacious interior, which enjoys north light from large windows left over from the building’s former lives as an automobile and furniture showroom.

Sage from Mighty Food Farm with crates of vegetables from the farm.
Sage from Mighty Food Farm delivering fresh produce.

It’s a great spot for seeing people over lunch or coffee; take-out service is also available. There is kombucha on tap and kefir in the fridge, and fresh fruit cups ready to go.

Cabot cheeses beckon from one cooler, Wilcox ice cream from another. To impress your guests (or hosts), shop from a couch + cork-curated wine selection or serve them a Cashmere Hoodie and other Vermont craft beers from the cooler in the alcove at the east end of the market.

Downtown Pop-Up Shops and More

bennington museum things to do in bennington vermont
Bennington museum opens on April 1st!

Wait, there’s more. The Better Bennington Corporation has arranged for a Pop Up Shop at 341 Main St. near the center of town; vendors of food, crafts, jewelry, and more have popped up like crocuses.

On the way through Pownal on Route 7, Hilltop Farm has opened an outlet for its meats and produce, and, closer to Bennington, the Apple Barn has recently re-opened with fresh cider donuts, pies, and other Vermont staples. 

Lastly, the Bennington Museum will open its doors for the season on April 1 with – besides half-price admission on that day – a fresh take on Bennington Modernism and an exhibit that proposes a provocative new way of imagining the history of Bennington.

“You know how it is with an April day,” wrote Robert Frost (who lived around here). In case you don’t know, and even if you do, Bennington awaits you in April.

Pownal resident Phil Holland writes a monthly post for Vermont Begins Here.