On Sunday morning at 7 a.m., Oct. 23, Paul Medeiros went to work at Spence Farm, just as he has on Sundays since early June. With other volunteers, he helped pitch tents for some 20 vendors and otherwise prepare for the weekly farmers’ market.
More than nine hours later, close to 4:30 in the afternoon, he was still there, long after the venders and visitors had left. The market usually closes at 1:30; the last one of the summer and fall season lasted about two hours longer, with special activities, like hayrides. Only a handful of volunteers remained, and even their ranks were thinning.
“Gotta sweep inside (the building on the property)," Medeiros said. “I’ll do that tomorrow.”
Medeiros chairs the city’s Agricultural Commission, which plans and runs activities, like the farmers’ market, at the 7-acre, city-owned site. The commission’s job, Medeiros told Woburn Patch before the first Oktoberfest at the site, this year, is to get people to use the city property. “It’s theirs,” he said.
“I drive by here almost every day,” Medeiros said during a morning break, “to check on it.”
“He’s passionate about (the property) and protective of it,” added Medeiros’ wife, Lori, who comes to most of the farmers’ markets.
Ask Medeiros how long he spent at the farm each week since June. Six, seven, eight hours, he said, a large underestimation.
“I was here six hours yesterday,” he said, as well as the nine hours on Sunday. “It’s all good.”
That doesn’t include the time off property, working on related chores.
The market will continue inside, every other week, from Nov. 6 through Dec. 18, then from Jan 8 to May 13. Before the holidays, Medeiros is looking into having a vendor sell wreaths and Christmas trees there.
When Mayor Scott Galvin decided to buy the farm property just over a year ago, He asked me if I’d chair the committee that oversees activities there, according to Medeiros. The city took possession of the land on Aug. 16, 2010, Medeiros said.
“I don’t have ‘no’ in my vocabulary,” Medeiros quipped.
Before the market started here, Medeiros and his wife visited about three dozen farmers’ markets, he told Woburn Patch. They particularly liked the markets in Newburyport and Lexington, he said, because they have live music and a variety of vendors, a mix of artisans and local produce. Sunday is farmer’s market day here, he explained, because there were no others markets in the area on Sundays.
Medeiros described himself as a detail-oriented planner. Vendors like being on grass, he said; their tents are set on a grassy area. Some musicians play near the vendors’ tents. Those who amplify their music set up next to the on-site building, so people can still hear each other and talk near the vendors’ tents. He designed a tarp cover over the Bavarian band for Oktoberfest, with its overcast sky.
“You always have to have a plan,” he said.
Why does Medeiros devote such time to the property and activities there?
“For the people of Woburn,” he said. "We want them to be proud of this property.”
A Woburnite since 1978, Medeiros said he came by his work ethic from his grandparents.
“If you want to change something,” according to Medeiros, they said, “get involved.”
Medeiros pointed to other volunteers—seven or eight out of a group of about 15 —who work regularly at the property. He cited Vince Grillo, who does the Spence Farm website, neighbor Anne Dowd and Bob Carley, also a member of the Agricultural Commission.
“It’s not,” he emphasized, “the Paul Medeiros show.”
At work—weekends or weekdays—Medeiros said he wouldn’t ask people to do what he wouldn’t do himself.
A machinist by trade, Medeiros works at a fire alarm company in the city. He’s used those skills, he said, to build stairs and benches for the farm’s hay wagon.
For seven terms, starting in 1990, Medeiros represented Ward 5 as its alderman. He sought the seat “because of environmental issues in my neighborhood,” he said. The area is contaminated by dumped toxic waste. Pumping and treating will go on for 20 more years, minimum, he said.
He also started an appliance recycling program in the city, run by the Medeiros Crew. The money the crew collects goes to different charities and to a scholarship, he said.
Working at the farm this summer has meant no visits to the Medeiros trailer in New Hampshire, according to the agricultural commission chairman.
Medeiros and his wife, Lori, have been married for 21 years. They share their home with a 9-year-old “mutt” named Autumn.
Lori Medeiros is division manager of Property Management and general manager of the Woburn Mall.
She has been appointed to the Board of Assessors to succeed George Bernardi, who died. She had served on the Woburn Commission for the Handicapped and Disabled Citizens and the Traffic Commission. She resigned from both boards before accepting the new appointment.
So how will Medeiros spend his rare Sundays when he’s not at Spence Farm?
On “a lot of stuff at home,” he said, from working on his motorcycle to painting the kitchen and living room.
On Sunday, after the last volunteers, including Medeiros, refolded the bounce house used at the harvest festival and took down the metal fence around the pen for the miniature horses, Medeiros stopped for a minute.
“Time for a beer and (to watch) football,” he said. But instead of heading for his truck, Medeiros walked back toward the building on the property and at least one more chore.