This Month’s Featured Article

A Journey Through Area Farmers Markets

By Published On: June 29th, 2021

In an area like ours, where you can easily stumble across a local farm’s produce stand or a small business selling unique goods, farmers markets are a perfect way for the community to come together and appreciate these nearby offerings in one place. There are endless benefits to these weekly events, as vendors can showcase their stock to a wide crowd of patrons, and in turn, customers have the opportunity to purchase fresh, local, and unique products.

The Millerton market

One such market is in the heart of Millerton, NY. Right on the corner of Dutchess Avenue and Main Street outside of the Millerton Methodist Church, the Millerton Farmers Market can be visited from 10am-2pm on Saturdays. This market began as a proposal by Karen Kisslinger, a local acupuncturist, organic gardener, and meditation teacher, in 2007. “She saw the need to promote local farms and healthy food sources, and worked to establish it with the North East Community Center,” according to market manager John Nowak. “Sadly, Karen has since passed away, but her legacy lives on with 14 continuous seasons of market operation.”

Over the many years of the market’s gatherings, the Millerton Summer Market has expanded into a separate Winter Market, which was created five years ago and can be found in the Fellowship Hall of the church from November to April. In addition to this growth, the Summer Market’s number of vendors has increased from an original six to upwards of twenty in the span of a season.

The market currently sells an assortment of local goods, ranging from vegetables, fruit, meat, cheese, and baked goods, to other special offerings like honey, maple syrup, pasta, and – coming soon – prepared Indian vegan food. Among the regular vendors, the market also highlights nearby artists and craftspeople, hosting a spot allocated for artisans.

The market has much more to offer beyond its products, hosting many exciting activities as well. With live musical performances, children’s activities, cooking demos that incorporate ingredients from the market, board games, and contests, the Millerton market offers something fun for all visitors. Other events include collaborations with the NorthEast-Millerton Library, such as a Halloween celebration with a costume parade. In addition to this, the market has ample plans for the summer including the return of their canine-themed “Dog Day in August” in partnership with multiple local organizations and individuals. John expresses, “We strive to be a local village gathering place and are pleased to bring back outdoor dining.” The Millerton market has a strong connection to the area, even keeping a Community Table Space where local nonprofits can speak with the community.

The Copake Hillsdale market

Scattered beneath the covered Harvest Barn in Roeliff Jansen Park in Hillsdale, NY, is another excellent destination, the Copake Hillsdale Farmers Market. Open Saturdays from 9am-1pm and running from May to late November, this weekly endeavor is the result of Copake and Hillsdale’s individual markets coming together.

In interviewing Laura Griffin, who manages the marketing and social media for the market, she explained that the 2014 merger resulted in the combined market that operates today. Over time, the market has gained immense support from the community, with now more than 20,000 visitors to the market each year, and over thirty vendors selling their goods every week. Laura emphasizes, “This has allowed for wider product selection for customers, but also for greater exposure to local small businesses.”

The market’s offerings cover necessities and specialties alike. Among typical staples like produce, meat, bread, and cheese, the Copake Hillsdale Farmers Market also boasts offerings like pickled eggs, Chinese dumplings, and sangria. In keeping vendors local – within about a 15 mile radius – and maintaining a seasonal vendor retention of approximately 95%, the market encourages “the forging of personal relationships with the growers.” Laura underscores, “chances are high that you will be dealing with the farmer, owner, or producer themselves” when purchasing from a particular stand. On top of this, the SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program) benefits they offer, in tandem with their own personal matching program, opens up opportunities to the whole community for fresh, local food. The market gives back in other ways, too, giving funding to the local food pantry, providing a local scholarship on behalf of the market’s founders, and giving community organizations a platform to share their ideas.

Apart from their vendors, the Copake Hillsdale market has many attractions, including live music and the natural scenery of the Roeliff Jansen Park. In partnership with the Roeliff Jansen Community Library, the Farm Market Kids program occurs once a week and provides activities for children. Additionally, the market also holds Artisan Days, giving a varying selection of woodworkers, jewelry makers, and potters the opportunity to showcase their special goods each week.

The Germantown market

Founded in 2019, the Germantown Farmers Market can be found on Saturdays from 10am-1pm at Palatine Park beside a small lake and beneath the park’s pavilion. Lauren Williams, one of the co-founders of the farmers market along with Stacylyn Himelright, explained that the two created the market upon recognizing a need for one in the area. Lauren explains that they “worked together in a few short months to get the market started from scratch.” Now in their third year as a market, they have increased their number of vendors, offering an even wider variety of foods now that there are less COVID restrictions.

Offerings at the market include sourdough breads, cookies, exclusively gluten-free baked goods, locally crafted beer, and fresh roasted coffee that stands out among the market’s foods including vegetables, meat, and eggs. Similar to the Copake Hillsdale market, all vendors are within a 15 mile radius of the Germantown event. While some vendors appear each week, others attend on a bi-weekly basis, and food trucks also visit. Lauren emphasizes, “We find that offering a larger selection of goods makes both the vendors and customers very happy!”

In tandem with these goods, the scenery of the park is certainly a major draw for the market, with its fishing and walking trails. The market also plans to bring back its musical entertainment, and they look forward to hosting local musicians. Furthermore, there are activities for children, too, as the Germantown Library holds story time and craft activities from 10-11am. As Lauren puts it, “You can really make it a fun family outing!”

Considering that the market is relatively new to the town, Lauren happily states that Germantown has been extremely welcoming and the market is more than glad to bring fresh, local food to the community. “We encourage everyone to come out and see our little market. We take great pride in it and want to share it with everyone.”

The Rhinebeck market

The Rhinebeck Farmers’ Market takes place on Sundays from 10am-2pm in the town’s municipal parking lot on 61 East Market Street. Andrea Bartolomeo, the market manager, shares that in 1994, the event was founded when a group of local citizens sought access to fresh produce and local farm goods. Today, the market currently offers just over thirty vendors, and Andrea explains, “We have always had vendors with strictly agricultural products as a priority.”

The market showcases a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, along with an impressive range of meat, wild game, fish, shellfish, dairy products, baked breads, and other treats. Offerings that especially stand out among the market’s vast stock include authentic Chinese dumplings – as also seen at the Copake Hillsdale market – along with farm fresh herbal soaps and skincare, felted wool creatures, and serving boards made of local fallen timber.

On top of these selections, the Rhinebeck market has hosted many exciting activities. Prior to the pandemic, these opportunities have included food tastings and demos by local eateries and book signings coordinated with Oblong Books. They have featured numerous local musicians amid COVID restrictions, with up to four performers attending each week: “Everything from jazz to Balkan and rock and roll,” according to Andrea. There is plenty of entertainment for kids, too, with T-shirt painting, pumpkin painting, and face painting. Chef Josh Kroner of Terrapin also partners with the event to put on a kids’ taste and tour of the market.

A main way the market connects with the Rhinebeck community is through its support of local non-profit organizations, like the Cornell Cooperative Extension and their efforts. The Rhinebeck market also sponsors a scholarship for nearby high school and college students, and is committed to using their SNAP and “Plus” programs to give everyone the opportunity to shop fresh and local. “We love working with the Rhinebeck community in any way that we can,” Andrea shares.

The Cornwall co-op market

Across the state line in Connecticut, the Cornwall Co-Operative Farm Market began five years ago, and is currently held on Saturdays from 9am-12:30pm on the village’s town green opposite the Cornwall Town Hall. From May to October, the self-managed endeavor consists of the town’s farmers and nearby vendors. Pat Bramley, who handles the market’s public relations and acts as treasurer for the event, spoke of the perks of the market’s set-up: “This location provides the market lovely shade trees; safe, plentiful parking; and access to popular seasonal community events held on the town green.”

In addition to this wonderful spot to hold the event, the market features a dynamic, essential array of food for their customers. Quality meat from local Cornwall farms includes grass-fed beef and lamb, as well as chicken and fresh cuts of pork. The market also has a plentiful selection of produce that only becomes more bountiful as the season progresses, and can be found alongside other goods like pesto, salad dressings, and maple syrup. Baked goods and dairy products are also abundant at the event, as are soups, chilis, bedding plants, and herbs. In addition to these offerings, Pat shares, “The Cornwall Co-Op Farm Market welcomes local guest vendors and artists with locally produced products, and community organizations can attend free of charge.”

Like all of the markets discussed, the Cornwall Co-Op emphasizes their ability to support local farms and vendors, and, as Pat states, “provide our community high quality local food and products.” We are so lucky to have access to these incredible events, and it is always important to remember the true value of these markets!

Disclaimer: This is in no way a complete list of all of the area farmers markets. We are fully aware that we only highlighted a select few. Please feel free to email us if you’d like us to put a market that we didn’t feature on our list for future reference.