By Carol Meyer
More than 600 enthusiastic shoppers turned out for the long-awaited return of the popular walk-in Hingham Farmers Market a couple of weeks ago -- a scaled-back version due to COVID-19, but still as vibrant as ever.
The market is open every Saturday -- rain or shine -- from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. until Thanksgiving. Even when there are lines to get in -- working around the capacity limit -- patrons wait patiently, happy that the walk-in version is again in place.
Wearing face masks and respecting social distancing guidelines, customers take great pleasure in all the fresh produce, fruit, poultry, beef, fish, lobsters, eggs, plants, cheese, bakery, jams and jellies, and soup surrounding them.
After starting with a drive-through model that required pre-ordering earlier in the season due to COVID-19, the HFM recently gained town board approvals to start-up the walk-in market again. From market organizers and managers, to Friends of the HFM, to other volunteers,
“We’re all here because we love the market and want everyone to share a positive experience," said HFM President Mark Cullings.
The Friends of the Hingham Farmers Market SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) has been reactivated, with The Fruit Center Marketplace continuing as SNAP matching partner. This means that the HFM can continue to supplement its SNAP customers’ purchases up to $15 per week when they buy fruit, produce, fish, eggs, chicken, beef, bread, and other qualifying food products at the market.
The best way to learn about what’s happening -- including how the walk-through market will operate and what customers should know before they arrive -- is to subscribe to the HFM’s newsletter -- "HFMarket Matters" --by going to the market’s website: www.hinghamfarmersmarket.org and opening the “Market News” link under the “About Us” tab.
By Carol Meyer
During these challenging times, at least one thing is certain -- the new school year will look and feel far different from the past, with social distancing, face mask, and other requirements in place.
Regardless of differing opinions among parents as to what's the safest and best way for their children to learn when they return to school Sept. 16, the 100-member Recovery Response Advisory Committee deserves a show of appreciation.
After working tirelessly to determine -- amidst state guidance that changes daily -- whether to recommend an in-school, remote, or hybrid model of learning, the advisory committee felt that a phased-in remote/hybrid option was the safest way to start off the school year due to COVID-19 safety and health concerns, and the School Committee unanimously agreed. The ultimate goal is to return to full in-person learning when it's deemed safe to do so.
Supt. of Schools Paul Austin submitted the Hingham Public Schools "final" 60-plus-page reopening plan to the state recently, subject to change as more state guidance, COVID-19 metrics, and other information is released.
Under the phased-in remote/hybrid plan, student instruction alternates between in-person and remote learning by half weeks (attending school -- with social distancing and other protocols in place -- on either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday), with remote instruction on Wednesdays and any other days that students are not participating in in-person learning.
In the meantime, the School Committee and administration continue to receive a good amount of communication from the community, expressing support and providing feedback, along with offers of volunteer help. "We are working to coordinate all of the offers to donate time, resources, and dollars so the administration can make the best use of community resources," School Committee Chair Kerry Ni said recently.
By Carol Meyer
I don't usually write about financial topics -- I'm no finance wiz by any means -- so this will be an exception.
Hats off to Hingham's financial management team for maintaining the town's AAA bond rating -- the highest credit rating possible from the three major credit-rating agencies -- during this budget-busting COVID-19 economic downturn.
All three rating agencies cited the town’s conservative budgeting practices, prudent fiscal management, healthy reserve (rainy day) fund, and large tax base in their decision to reaffirm Hingham’s AAA rating.
"This is very big news. Hingham is one of a few Massachusetts communities with a AAA bond rating from each of the three rating agencies," Selectmen Chair Mary Power said recently. "To receive these ratings in the midst of a global pandemic is particularly gratifying."
By Carol Meyer
There's nothing like a brightly-colored bouquet of flowers, a blooming hydrangea bush, a 20-foot-high tulip tree that grew from a six-inch seedling, or an eye-catching hanging basket or window box full of vibrant red and white geraniums and other plants to cheer us up during tough times.
In the words of Author Ken Petti, "Every flower blooms in its own time.” All summer long at different times, our yard has been overflowing with flowering hydrangea, rhododendron, azalea, and rose bushes, along with daffodils, irises, crocuses, and some plants and flowers we can't identify but that add beauty to our surroundings -- each blooming at just the right time year in and year out.
Taking a lesson from nature, the same is true for all of us. Sometimes we make good decisions, while other times we make mistakes. Sometimes we are patient, and other times we react too quickly. Sometimes we are kind, while at other times we are inconsiderate.
That said, we can learn from our mistakes and go higher. We can be kinder, more understanding, and compassionate whenever we choose to express those qualities. Every time we take the high road is another step of progress.
We can take heart from the summer bounty of flowers that surrounds us, whether looking out the window on a beautiful summer's day or enjoying some time in the sun while giving the plants and flowers a good watering.
Let's be patient with ourselves and others as we, too, bloom in our own time.