The Fruits of her Labor

ARTIST AND DESIGNER DONNA INGEMANSON TURNS HER CREATIVITY TO BUILDING THE BRAINTREE FARMERS MARKET

By Jennifer H. McInerney • Photography By Donna Ingemanson

Some artists like to focus intently on minute details, while others prefer to take a grand-scale approach to depicting a scene or subject. The realists tend to stick to the particulars, while others enjoy incorporating broad strokes or a flourish of whimsy.

Braintree-based artist Donna Ingemanson has mastered many techniques—from graphic design to illustration to print-making, and nearly everything in between. She’s equally comfortable painting a collection of fine art for an exhibit at Norwell’s James Library, designing children’s dinnerware for Land of Nod, and creating logos for the ever-popular restaurant Anna’s Taqueria, which has expanded to six locations in the Boston/Cambridge area.

“I evolved from a graphic designer and art director to a freelance illustrator and fine artist,” Ingemanson notes. “I’ve done a little bit of everything, which is good when showing my body of work to art directors. They can see that my portfolio is well-rounded and my artwork can be applied to many different purposes and projects.”

Ingemanson’s fine art conveys an unleashed sense of freedom and natural beauty. Some of her pieces, such as “Dynasty,” are awash with color and subtle details, while other examples, including “Milk for Kitty,” are more straightforward and up-front in their intention. Ingemanson portrays wild animals with gentle personalities, all manner of marine life frolicking together under the sea, and exotic butterflies so bright and vivid they appear poised to flutter right off the paper.

“Most illustrators do everything on the computer, but I’m more inclined toward painterly pieces. They come more naturally to me,” Ingemanson observes. “I first do a sketch by hand and then I scan it into the computer to work with it.”

Over the course of her career, Ingemanson has designed original artwork for children’s soft-padded “Animals Around the World” lunchboxes and eco-friendly “Sea Creatures” reusable water bottles for Crocodile Creek, as well as eye-catching book covers for “The Secret Life of Cats” (Ariel Books) and “Believe in Yourself” (Peter Pauper Press). The Solar System Puzzle Ingemanson illustrated for Galison Mudpuppy earned the 2005 Parent and Child Magazine Teacher’s Pick Toy of the Year. But this celebrated artist is perhaps best known for an entirely different sort of masterpiece on an even grander canvas—one that she created specifically for the health and well-being of her community: the Braintree Farmers Market.

“I’ve always loved Farmers Markets, but the closest option we had was Milton,” Ingemanson explains. “I thought it would be nice to have one to give our community convenient access to local farms and small specialty businesses.”

The seed of the idea was planted back in 2007, when Ingemanson had the opportunity to speak with a mayoral candidate Joseph C. Sullivan about the state of the community.

“He asked me what types of endeavors I thought would enhance Braintree,” she recalls. “So I told him about my idea for a farmers market with local growers and vendors.” When Sullivan won the election, Ingemanson wasted no time following up with a visit to Braintree’s inaugural mayor.

“I brought up the farmers market idea again, and the mayor said, ‘I would love to have the Farmers Market right here in front of the Town Hall.’ ”

Ingemanson could hardly believe her luck—the central, visible location, plus the solid support of the mayor himself. Recognizing that this was not the type of invitation that would be presented twice, she quickly immersed herself in all things farmers market. She sought the guidance of the Federation of Massachusetts Farmers Markets and Massachusetts Department of Agriculture as she set out to bring her vision of the Braintree market to fruition.

To promote the launch of the farmers market in 2009, Ingemanson added her own skills to the mix by designing eye-catching market ads and posters. Her whimsical artwork drew a crowd for the 12 vendors under the tents in front of the Town Hall.

“That first day when we opened, it was an absolute mob scene,” she remembers. “People loved it. They kept asking, ‘Are you going to be here next week, too?’ ”

Over the years, the lineup of vendors has included fruits and vegetables from local farms, baked goods, seafood, maple syrup, cheese and sparkling wine. Among the mainstays each year are: Homestyle Catering, C.N. Smith Farm, Joe Beaulieu Butcher Shop and Fresh Catch Seafood.

“The vendors do very well here. Most of them come back or have had such success that they’ve grown too big for the farmers market,” Ingemanson says. “It’s a great percolator for small businesses and farms to test the waters at the market.” A good example of this, she says, is Second Nature Farm, an organic grower based in Norwood. The owner, Adam Tedeschi, joined the market five years ago with one stand; this year, he will open three stands to meet growing demand for his produce.

Now entering its seventh season, the Braintree Farmers Market has doubled from its original size, to 25 vendors, attracting some 3,000 patrons. As the farmers market has grown in popularity, so has interest from local merchants who would like to participate. For certain categories, there is actually a waiting list. “We try to have the offerings as diversified as possible so that the vendors aren’t in direct competition with one another,” Ingemanson points out.

The 2015 season kicks off on June 13 with an ever-growing range of products, including: locally grown and produced fruits and vegetables, hormone- and antibiotic-free meats, seafood, prepared foods, flowers, plants, preserves, exotic mushrooms, spa products, gourmet cupcakes, fresh eggs, pies, honey, breads, coconut butters, granola, cheeses, handmade pastas, sauces, cranberries, locally roasted coffees, teas and chocolates.

The Braintree Farmers Market continues to take place every Saturday, rain or shine, from June through October. A special indoor Thanksgiving Farmers Market, featuring more than 30 merchants, is held annually in November. Other highlights of the season are the Strawberry Festival, coming up on June 20, and the Clam and Lobster Feast, on Labor Day weekend.

The farmers market is supported by Liberty Bay Credit Union and Braintree Electric Light Department (BELD), and is in the process of transitioning to nonprofit status. Local nonprofit organizations have an opportunity to set up shop in the Community Tent to provide exposure to local residents.  The 2015 Braintree Farmers Market opens on Saturday, June 13, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. A list of participating vendors and special events can be found HERE.

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