PEPPERELL -- Frost on the pumpkins or paint on the pumpkins, signs of the changing seasons, were found at the farmers market last Saturday morning. Heather Friend, market coordinator, supplied a table with artist brushes, paints, glitter and decals and children marked the start of the Halloween season with beautiful faces, theirs and their pumpkins'. They had help from market staff, who divided their time selling vegetables from Robinwood Farm and keeping paint on the squashes.

Farmers started seeds in late winter and since July, they have been up early, in rubber boots or soggy sneakers, picking and digging produce in their fields.

A short trip to sinks and there's a rush of washing, weighing, boxing, bagging and packing a parade of tasty, healthy foods. A tent, tables, cash box and a chair for a brief rest are added to the truck and down to the Town Field to set up for the 9 a.m. opening. Customers arrive: families with their children and dogs, senior citizens, friends, neighbors and fellow gardeners.

The conversations are lively, continuing from one week to the next. Farmers markets are a rich social as well as retail experience.

Next Saturday will be the last market for the season. The growers, Dragonfly Farm, Robinwood Farm, Kirk Farm, Little Acre Farm, Lyndell Farm and Twin Valley Farm remain open at their home stands and appreciate your loyalty to buying local fruits, vegetables, meats and homemade products.