By Marie Sova
The value of farmers’ markets to communities is immense, and strengthening that bond is one important mission of the Saratoga Farmers Market. Behind that bond are the farmers whose hard work, dedication to agriculture, and beautifully produced foods make the market possible. In honor of next week’s August 6-12 observance of National Farmers’ Market Week, we want to share a bit about what makes our market stand out.
The Saratoga Farmers Market, founded in 1978, is among the oldest continually running farmers’ markets in New York State. It is a producer-only market, which means all items sold at the market are grown, raised, or made by the farmers and other artisans who are a part of the market. The market also defines “local” quite specifically to those whose farms or businesses are within a 50-mile radius of downtown Saratoga Springs.
As an entity run by a non-profit association consisting of current and former vendors, the Saratoga Farmers Market sees the bond between customers and vendors as a key asset and strives each week to create an enjoyable and welcoming atmosphere for everyone. That connection is important to the market because it helps customers know more about the foods they buy, says Charles Holub of Scotch Ridge Berry Farm. “It builds trust between the customer and producer, particularly for organic growers,” Holub says.
The market has changed considerably over its 45 years but remains what Phyllis Underwood of Shushan Hydro Farms calls “a place where consumers can meet their farmers and learn about how they grow and provide food.” Such programs as the Power of Produce Club (PoP Club), Wednesday workshops, and the expansion this year of the market’s long-running community compost project help inform shoppers and give them opportunities to participate in creating a thriving local economy.
That participation is something that farmers markets nationwide encourage, says Diane Eggert of the Farmers Market Federation of New York. She suggests several ways for you to get involved, such as:
- Bringing family and friends to their local markets;
- Posting pictures of market purchases on social media and tagging the markets;
- Talking to vendors about how they produce their goods;
- Trying a new vegetable or other food item available at the market;
- Supporting a market’s growth with donations.
“Shopping at farmers markets nourishes us – our bodies as well as our souls,” Eggert says. “The foods that people purchase at farmers’ markets are the best they can buy for their families.”
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is open on Wednesdays from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at High Rock Park in Downtown Saratoga. Find us online at www.saratogafarmersmarket.org, where you can sign up for our weekly newsletter, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram @SaratogaFarmersMarket.