By Elizabeth Horgan
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is a great opportunity to meet up with others as you shop for the week. If you spend enough time at the market, you will start to see the sense of community that vendors share with each other as well as their customers. When shopping for ingredients to fill her ravioli, Mangiamo’s Rose Contadino stops by Halls Pond Farm, the produce vendor five steps from her stall. Meanwhile, Armin and Zinta Hrelja of Euro Delicacies use apples from Saratoga Apple for their apple strudel.
The vendors not only support each other but also the community. At the end of the Wednesday and Saturday markets, Squashville Farm’s Himanee Gupta-Carlson goes around to vendors to collect donations for the Franklin Community Center’s food pantry. Gupta-Carlson also coordinates a garden for the pantry. Meanwhile, Jim Gupta-Carlson facilitates the market’s compost collection program.
The market is a strong advocate of the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, which distributes $4 coupons for produce to lower-income seniors and others, as well as the Fresh Connect program that provides SNAP recipients an additional $2 for every $5 of EBT tokens purchased at the market.
The market also connects with the community in other ways. Through a partnership with the Bicycle Benefits program, market-goers can purchase a $5 sticker and take advantage of discounts at local businesses. This is part of an effort to encourage the use of bicycles as a source of transportation through the incentive of discounts at local businesses if you show your sticker and that you biked to their location. At the market, participants in the Bicycle Benefits program receive a $2 token to purchase produce or other items.
Chris Toole and Alexandra Morgan are conveners of the Friends of the Market volunteer program, whose members assist market-goers with the transport of purchases from the market to cars, offer vendors the chance to take short breaks, and support the market in other ways. They are eager to welcome new volunteers, and those who are interested can stop by the market shed or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Volunteering at the market has shown them what farmers go through to get their produce from the farms into people’s homes.