Emily’s Post: Meet Cole, The Market Manager

This week on the blog, I am happy to introduce Cole Gove, the market manager for the Portsmouth Farmers’ Market. Cole is part of the staff at the Seacoast Growers Association (SGA), a nonprofit that has successfully run Farmers’ Markets since its start in 1977. The Seacoast Growers Association runs or manages a number of summer farmers markets including Durham, Portsmouth, Exeter and Dover. I was introduced to Cole in my first day at the market, and have gotten to know him better each week (especially since our tents are right next to each other).

Interestingly enough, the Portsmouth market was where Cole first became aware of this community as a whole. He was trading labor for art classes at a local studio under renovation, and met a man who worked as a furniture maker. Cole worked with this furniture maker and helped him sell his goods at the Portsmouth markets, which is where he began the gradual transition from vendor to market manager. Although Cole supports both the farmers and artisans, his real interest in the markets stems from his talent and passion for event coordination. “I see myself as someone who works for the farmers [and artists], to help them facilitate what they do”, he stated in his interview.

Cole has a certain affinity for the Dover market in particular. As a resident, he has been able to get a real sense of the intensity and the pace of this small New Hampshire city. He appreciates that Dover is traditionally known a blue-collar city, identifying that each market brings with it a certain vibe. Exeter, for example, has a very family-oriented vibe, while Portsmouth brings in a wider variety of customers.

Portsmouth, being the longest market from 8:00am-1:00pm every Saturday (rain or shine), is one of the most difficult markets to coordinate. “I appreciate that it is more of a challenge [to manage], in that there are a bunch of different people you interact with throughout the day. You can have one conversation, walk thirty feet, and enter into a completely different context,” Cole said. He takes on the role as an ambassador for the farms that are there, helping to positively represent them in each interaction with both customers and other vendors.

Cole’s favorite part of this work is his ability to meet all of the different people that attend these markets. “It is very rewarding for me to be able to meet people like the local soap makers, furniture makers and farmers. I like the idea of supporting the local economy, and localism as a general way of living,” he said. He loves supporting people who are following their dreams, and “making a living through creative means.” In other words, he is inspired by the people who choose to follow their passion, and make a living that fits who they are, regardless of the traditional career paths that are already present. This aligns closely with SGA’s mission, which is to find a way for people to actively pursue a small farm and make a living from it.

 Cole’s current projects include identifying and reaching out to new customer segments, in order to increase the general awareness of these markets to the Seacoast community. Catch him every week at the Portsmouth and Dover markets, rocking his well-known bright green t-shirt (worn for ease of recognition).

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