Friend-ing the Saratoga Farmers’ Market

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By Himanee Gupta-Carlson

food-fact-4As one of the organizers of the Friends of the Saratoga Market volunteer group, I’d like to thank the regular shoppers, first-time visitors, community organizations, farmers and other vendors, and most especially the market administrator for making 2016 such a rousing success for the Saratoga Farmers’ Market. I’d also like to invite you in 2017 to become a friend of the market and join our ranks.

First off, kudos to market administrator Julia Howard who carried out a vision for helping to make our market a force for building community in Saratoga and beyond. In 2016, Howard organized an Easter extravaganza, a spring festival of workshops, the first ever summer Power of Produce Club for children in Saratoga, a series of do-it-yourself workshops in the summer Wednesday market, a taste of the market festival, a holiday bazaar, and much more. Thanks to her efforts, the Saratoga Farmers’ Market enters 2017 energized and eager for new growth.

Now, who are the Friends of the Market and what do we do? And, why do we want you to join us?

We established ourselves informally in 2011, after a longtime market shopper suggested that the market could use a citizens based support group to serve as a bridge between shoppers, vendors, and the community. Our membership remains small but solid. Our roles are easy to learn, and focus on relationship building that is in line with our mission to help the market continue to thrive.

At about this time last year, market administrator Howard threw us a challenge. The challenge was to help her make the market more of an outlet for creating a sense of community. This challenge expanded our existing roles considerably. We currently:

  • – Manage a Veggie Valet service during the Saturday summer market and a Friends’ table during the winter market. Here, shoppers can leave bags, coats, strollers and anything else during the winter market.
  • – Provide relief to vendors by handling transactions at their stalls so they can take restroom breaks, grab a bite to eat, and/or shop for their own weekly supplies of produce, meats, and dairy items at the market.
  • – Write weekly Saratoga Today articles and provide recipes on seasonal foods, the vendors at our market, and other market events.
  • – Help capture the energy of the market through photographs.
  • – Operate a fledgling compost drop station and recycling effort.
  • – Coordinate a food donation program in which market vendors and generous shoppers are able to donate fresh and local produce and other items to the Franklin Community Center food pantry.
  • – Assist market staff with token transactions, general questions and answers, and in a few cases, we have been asked to help clean up spilt milk.

food-fact-2As our roles expand, the need for more help has intensified. We invite you to join us and share your talents. We welcome those who would like to contribute to the weekly Friends’ corner in the newsletter as well write articles for Saratoga Today. We also can use help in getting the word out on our recycling and composting efforts, and with our booth at the weekly market. We also are always looking for new ideas to support the market.

To contact us: e-mail friends@saratogafarmersmarket.org with a statement expressing your interest.

Happy New Year from the Friends of the Market.