By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
Community life in and around Saratoga has shut down in the effort to slow the Coronavirus spread. One space that remains open is the Saratoga Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings at the Wilton Mall.
The market, deemed an essential service, set up outdoors last Saturday in the parking lot outside the shuttered mall. Market staff created “stalls” out of parking spaces and placed vendors in spots that were spaced to maintain a safe distance.
Vendors set up tables and in some cases tents. They donned rubber gloves and had disinfectant wipes and sanitizer on hand.
What makes farms and farmers’ markets essential?
Most crucially perhaps is the fact that they offer food that is locally grown. You can find fresh vegetables, eggs, and chicken at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, along with such storable vegetables like carrots and potatoes; beef, pork, lamb, and goat; and even shelf-stable sauces, pickles, and dried beans.
“We need to be able to get our food to the community,” said Jason Heitman, of Green Jeans Market Farm, a vegetable grower.
“Farms are the heart of community,” added Julie Noble, of Ramble Creek Farm, which offers mushrooms and meats. “It’s important to keep food local, especially at this time.”
Farmers’ markets rarely operate outdoors before May. Last Saturday was sunny but windy, with temperatures that were below freezing.
As a vendor myself, I shivered through three layers of jackets, wool socks, and gloves. I filled my table with eggs and set out coolers of meat. I was unsure what to expect, but as market regulars and new customers arrived, it quickly became apparent that many hungered not only for food but a sense of community, too.
Amid sales, vendors and customers exchanged news. There were no handshakes or hugs, but plenty of laughs and well wishes.
“We’ll be continuing the market every week,” said Beth Trattel, market board president and owner of Something’s Brewing. “We’re working with the mall to ensure that the space that we’re in remains safe.”
Kelley Hillis of Puckers Gourmet Pickles could not offer samples of her pickles but did display their award-winning ribbons on her coat.
“Farmers markets are vital,” she said. “The money spent here supports a local producer. It helps keep my family, and other farm families fed.”
This week’s recipe: Roast Chicken