Farmer’s Market Season Begins and There’s Something For Everyone

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Contributing Writer
Stephanie McCraw

Farmer’s Market season is upon us and it’s a great time to eat healthy while shopping local. The summer harvest provides fruits and vegetables in abundance and a visit to a farm stand or market benefits the local economy. From baked goods, to honey, to BBQ sauce and herbs, there is something for everyone.

Jamestown Public Market, held on 3rd and Cherry Street, will open on June 8th from 10am-2pm, providing fresh food and products grown around Chautauqua County. The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation has managed the market for the past ten years, guiding it through changes and improvements. It features seasoned vendors from local farms and several new businesses looking to connect with the community.

Patrons of a market like the one in Jamestown can expect seasonal produce picked hours before being sold, and plenty of variety as the summer moves into July and August. Summer strawberries and many herbs and vegetables like kale, lettuce, and fennel are ready to go. Farmer’s Markets in our area start the first two weeks of June and continue into October. Live entertainment is scheduled weekly along with kid’s activities.

New Developments

Linnea Carlson is ready for her second season as Market Manager. “2018 was a great year, with credit, debit, and EBT purchases increased by 61%” she said, anticipating that growth to continue. 2019 will be the Market’s second year using the USDA Farmer’s Market and Local Food Promotion Program, which provides grant funding to make it easier for buyers to gain access to local and regional food and to be aware of markets in the area.

They participate in “Double Up Food Bucks” funded by the Field and Fork Network. This allows them to match each SNAP dollar token purchases of fruits and vegetables with a dollar token.

The Jamestown Public Market also applied for and was awarded access to FarmSpread by the nonprofit Farmer’s Market Coalition. FarmSpread is a platform that gives the managers like Carlson numerous tools to stay organized, promote their event, and to communicate better with vendors.

Know Your Farm, and Your Farmer

Sue Abers is co-owner of Abers Acres Farm in Kennedy, NY. She and her husband John started the farm in 1984. As a vendor at the Jamestown and Westfield Farmer’s Markets, summer is a busy time and the work starts early. The Abers pick their produce the evening and morning before, then leave the farm around 7a.m. and arrive over an hour before the market opens to set up and ensure a positive experience for shoppers.

A Farmer’s livelihood partially depends on the weather. Sue says the rain and cloud cover the past few weeks have slowed growth on crops that need more heat and sunshine, but they are still getting a great harvest. The team is working hard and excited to start selling, both at the stand and at the markets.

“Kale and broccoli are cool weather crops, but strawberries, beans and tomatoes like the heat” she said. The first few markets they will offer strawberries, rhubarb, kale, lettuce, asparagus, spinach, with garden peas, beets and swiss chard later in the month, and black raspberries by the end of June.

Organic Produce and Meat

Abers Acres is a USDA Certified Organic farm, using different methods to keep weeds and pests at bay instead of pesticides and insecticides. Part of their philosophy is that they “prefer to work with nature rather than fight against nature.” Behind their farm stand in Kennedy, where visitors can see rows of plants, lay cubes of wet, heavy straw that are used to tamp down weed growth around organic blueberry bushes. Workers stay busy pulling weeds, but “some weeds are actually good,” says Sue.

Steve Rockcastle owns and operates Green Heron Growers along with his wife Julie. It’s a farm that raises grass fed beef, Certified Organic chicken, and Certified Organic produce. “I love the market and talking to customers about what we do,” he says. They visit several markets in the area bringing a selection of fine meats and shitake mushrooms. “People are becoming more and more aware of what they eat. We provide recipes, samples, advice and information to encourage that” he said.

Positive Feedback

Farmer’s Markets attract attention to surrounding businesses, drawing people out and into their community. Carlson says she hears a lot of feedback from downtown businesses and they in turn make appearances at the market to show support. Markets can also be a special stop for tourists to get a taste of what the area has to offer. She mentioned that comedian Lewis Black made an appearance last year.

SPROUTs is a weekly kids club that teaches nutrition and agriculture through fun and engaging activities while parents do their shopping and enjoy the atmosphere. Along with live entertainment, it’s a great reason to bring the whole family.

“We want people to explore eating seasonally,” says Carlson. This year they plan to offer cooking demonstrations, and a weekly newsletter that people can sign up for on their Facebook page. The newsletter will feature articles and recipes to keep people connected and interested in local fare.

The Jamestown Public Market is sponsored by UPMC. Says Brian Durniok, interim President,

“The Jamestown Public Market has a long history of providing community access to locally grown food growers and producers. The Market helps our local economy and supports healthy and nutritious foods for our local communities. As the leading healthcare provider in the region, UPMC Chautauqua is proud to support this longstanding program that encourages great tasting and healthy locally grown foods.”

More information on the Jamestown Public Market, along with schedules of events, can be found on their Facebook page. For more facts on buying local produce visit www.chautauqua.cce.cornell.edu/chautauqua-grown/why-buy-local.