In case you weren’t listening when your mother nagged you on the subject, Megan Sperry wants to remind you: “Eat your vegetables!” That was her leadoff message last Sunday morning, as local officials, vendors, volunteers and food-shoppers converged on Willow Kiln Park for the season opening of the Rosendale Farmers’ Market.
A professor of Digital Media Production at SUNY New Paltz during the school year, Sperry has been serving for the last three years on a volunteer basis as manager of the 12-year-old greenmarket. “Doing the market is like my little summer gig,” she explained. “Having access to fresh food is really important to me, and making sure other people have access to fresh food is important as well.”
Joining Sperry for the ribbon-cutting ceremony were fellow market organizers Ken Oldehoff and Billy Liggan, Rosendale councilwoman Jen Metzger and town supervisor Jeanne Walsh. Metzger has had a whirlwind schedule of public appearances of late, as she campaigns for the New York State Senate seat currently occupied by John Bonacic; but the candidate still had enough energy to clown around with Walsh, miming a limbo dance under the ceremonial ribbon. Metzger called the Rosendale Farmers’ Market “one of our most valuable community institutions.” Not only are such markets “critical for supporting our local farms,” she said, but they also provide opportunities to “get together neighbor-to-neighbor. We get too little of that these days.”
Sperry and Walsh offered words of welcome, thanking the vendors and volunteers who make the market possible and, in particular this summer, the Wallkill Valley Land Trust for allowing the event site to be shifted to Willow Kiln Park instead of the adjacent municipal parking lot behind the Rosendale Theatre. The move gives the market a picturesque green backdrop, grass instead of asphalt underfoot and frees up more parking spaces, to the benefit of both the market itself and nearby shops along Main Street. “It supports local businesses, the way it’s set up now,” Walsh noted.
Visiting the market in its new configuration may serve to introduce new potential users to Rosendale’s municipal charging station for electric vehicles and the trailhead for the Joppenbergh Access Trail, both of which are clearly visible at the eastern end of the market site. Also handy is the Mountain Stage constructed for the Rosendale Street Festival, which serves Willow Kiln Park year-round. Visitors to the market’s summer 2018 launch day were treated to the sounds of Dorraine Scofield and J. B. Hunt; live performers will vary from week to week.
Neighborly interactions were much in evidence as shoppers perused the offerings of about a dozen vendors, some of them veterans and a few newcomers to the Rosendale event. “This is my first outdoor market,” said Alice Velky, proprietor of Kerhonkson-based Madhuri Bodywork & Botanicals, who had set up her table at the winter version of the market, held at the Rosendale Recreation Center. Made largely from organically homegrown and foraged ingredients, the Madhuri line features an intriguing variety of skin care products and herbal tonics. Velky was handing out thimble-sized samples of her intensely tasty Fire Cat Medicinal Vinegar, which, she said, is “part of my wellness regimen” for its anti-inflammatory, immune-system-boosting properties but also “makes a really great steak marinade.”
Set up right next to the Madhuri booth was Bloomington-based Cereghino Smith Winemakers, selling bottles bearing such fanciful names as Eaten by Bears Red. At the far western end of the aisle was the Wild Mountain Birds tent, where wildlife rehabilitator Annie Mardiney’s array of live owls and raptors regarded visitors warily. In between were mostly vendors of early-season produce: salad greens, spring onions and seedlings to transplant into your home garden, including a lush selection of heirloom tomato plants. Mushrooms, baguettes and cider donuts, free-range eggs and grass-fed beef were all available. “We wait all winter for this,” said Bob Fade of nearby Fiddlehead Farm, who offered cut flowers as well as seedlings and spring greens. “We’ll have strawberries and snap peas soon — hopefully next week.”
Unlike some farm markets and farmstands that cater primarily to the tourist trade, with prices to match, the Rosendale Farmers’ Market has a commitment to “food justice” and being a source for fresh local produce for all. Ken Oldehoff, who recently retired from a career in campus food service management, has been an active volunteer since the market’s founding. “We take SNAP,” he pointed out — that is, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program vouchers, a/k/a food stamps. “A lot of small markets don’t…. I got involved because I wanted to get food to people.”
The Rosendale Farmers’ Market will be open every Sunday through October, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit http://rosendalefarmersmarketny.com/summer-market or www.facebook.com/therosendalefm.