Locally sourced food has become increasingly more important as people attempt to stay closer to home in the midst of a global pandemic. Growers, farm-market organizers and supporters are working to provide customers with safe, accessible, fresh food while drastically reducing the links in the sometimes overwhelmingly complex food chain. We checked in with farm markets in Woodstock, Saugerties, Kingston and New Paltz. All were either already open or preparing to reconfigure their outdoor spaces while expanding their online offerings.
The Kingston Farmers’ Market
The Kingston Farmers’ Market has created the ability for people to sign up online for a 20-minute shopping stop every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the John Street entrance of the Ulster County courthouse parking lot. Patrons are also encouraged to pre-shop online so that fresh produce, meat, dairy products and baked goods are ready to go for them when they arrive, cutting down on physical interaction and conforming with state guidelines of “social distancing,” that overarching phrase of life during these times.
“We are actually operating now,” said farm market manager Laura Wilson Crimmins. The market goes on all year, moving inside the Old Dutch Church from December to April. Its last winter market took place on April 25.
“Our opening day for our outdoor market season is May 9, and we will expand to our usual 50 vendors and continue to operate in the county courthouse parking lot for the whole season, ending November 21,” said Crimmins. A full list of rules and regulations are in place to ensure their growers’, workers’ and customers’ safety.
In such a time of change and caution, working together is particularly important. “We have very strong support from the county at this time to continue to safely allow a bit of normalcy for Kingston,” explained manager Crimmins. “We’ve had a really heartwarming response from our community, with their overwhelming support of small businesses and local farms. I think people are especially happy to have the opportunity to shop in person and to feel very safe, and at the same time be able to see friends and other community members and interact with them from afar. It’s been a lot of extra work on everyone’s part, but worth it; and we anticipate seeing the same strong response through the season.”
To preorder, sign up to shop or simply learn more about the contributing farmers, go to http://kingstonfarmersmarket.org.
The Woodstock Farmers’ Festival
Going into its fourteenth year, the Woodstock Farmers’ Festival year, is gearing to open on Wednesday, May 27. It is adjusting to Covod 19 safety precautions with new protocols and a new location.
“We’ve had a couple of months to observe and prepare how we would do this,” said festival manager Sophie Grant. Because farm markets are an essential service, she said, local, county and state governments are strongly encouraging people to support community-based agriculture, both from an economic and a health perspective.
The market has decided to move its location to the municipal lot off Rock City Road. “It’s near to our other location, but has more room, which is critical to the safety of our vendors and our patrons,” said Grant.
Like Kingston, the Woodstock Farmers’ Festival is offering preorders online, so that people can almost drive through the market to pick up fresh seasonal fresh items. “We want people to be able to purchase local fresh food as quickly and as easily as they can,” said Grant.
The market intends to abide by all the safety standards that essential businesses are following to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“People have created such strong relationships with the farmers that grow their food, and we want to encourage that connection,” said Grant. “This pandemic has really highlighted how important it is to have the direct relationship with the person that grows your food. It’s not being handled by anyone else, and Woodstock residents greatly appreciate that.”
The market intends to forgo the live music, arts, educational programming and other interactive events that have attracted an additional audience in the past. and will concentrate on its core mission “to provide access to fresh local food in the heart of Woodstock.”
“The coronavirus pandemic has us refocusing our efforts,” Grant explained. “The strength and resilience of our local food system depends on us. Each week we need to make a conscious choice to eat locally, seasonally and sustainably, and to help everyone in our community do the same. What we do now will have ripple effects for years to come. Our farmers’ market has never had a more clear and unequivocal purpose, and we hope you will join us in these efforts.”
Grant reports that the community is excited about the market reopening. The producers have been “working hard” to get their products ready for their community to enjoy – especially with all the cooking taking place at home during these restaurantless times.
The market is part of a #wednesdaysinwoodstock movement and will remain open for all throughout the growing season and into late fall. Like the other markets, it has a list of rules and regulations pertaining to safe shopping and social distancing, which can be found on the website, along with descriptions of each of the vendors and how to preorder: www.woodstockfarmfest.org.
The New Paltz Open-Air Farm Market
The New Paltz Open Air Farm Market is slated to sell its wares from area farm vendors on Sunday, May 31 through November 1 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. along Church Street from Main to Academy Street. According to Alanna Henneberry, who has taken over the helm as manager of the farm market after serving as assistant for the past two years, “We’re excited to get started, and although we traditionally have live music from 12 to 2 p.m., we’ll have to wait and see what the world looks like a month from now.”
Regardless of their ability to host live entertainment, Henneberry said, the weekly market is ready to showcase small, independent farms that will provide customers with local honey, maple syrup, fresh vegetables, fruit and preserves. “We have Italian meats that are locally processed and olive oil as well as sheep yogurt and cheese and gluten-free baked goods,” said Henneberry. “I’m not one to rave about gluten-free pies or breads, but these are incredible! They always sell out so quickly.”
Like her colleagues, Henneberry said that the New Paltz Open Air Farm Market will “follow all health and safety guidelines dictated by the state.” To learn more about the operation, go to the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/npopenairmarket.
Saugerties Farm Market
The Saugerties Farm Market has been showcasing not only a cornucopia of local farm products, but also a long list of community events, social gatherings, arts, education and entertainment. It will now have to focus primarily on the food and the sanctity of the relationships it has built with vendors and clients over the past 19 years.
“I helped to found the Saugerties Farm Market,” said Judith Spektor, the market’s coordinator. “We have such diverse, productive, skilled, farmers, and we’re excited to support them and to be able to enjoy their fresh, local, healthy products. They depend on us for their income, and we depend on them!”
While the market is slated to open as it typically does on Saturday, May 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 115 Main Street in the heart of the village, Spektor was sad to say that there’d be no special events. “We’re such a gathering place and have so much that goes on here,” she said, “but now we’ll just be excited to see each other from a safe distance.”
Spektor and her farm market committee and vendors have been working along with the state Department of Agriculture to create a layout that affords ample space between vendors and customers. “We will have hand sanitizer and gloves and masks, and will remind people that they cannot handle the produce,” she said. Per guidelines from the state, the market will not offer non-food items like pottery, jewelry, body lotions and soaps that local craftspeople make.
“If you think about it, farm markets are such a healthy alternative, as you’re outside, in the fresh air, with plenty of space and able to buy local, fresh, organically grown food that’s good for your health,” Spektor added. “Well, we do have baked goods, but they’re so delicious, even if they’re not as nutritious as the produce.” She laughed.
For information on the Saugerties Farm Market, its vendors, hours, protocols and news, go to the website at https://saugertiesfarmersmarket.com.