Nearly every hamlet in southern Ulster now boasts of a farmers’ market where freshly harvested fruit and vegetable crops, organic cheese and meat, Hudson Valley wines, fresh-cut flowers, jams, honey and any number of locally grown, produced and packaged goods can be purchased at a one-stop healthy community shop.
Already up and running is the Gardiner Farmers’ Market, which is held every Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. in the lower parking lot of the Gardiner Library. “This is our fourth year,” said Annie O’Neill, as she stopped by each booth to check in with the vendors. “Every vendor we have is from within four to five miles of here, and all of their products and produce are naturally grown: no pesticides, insecticides, hormones.”
There was a little taste of everything at the Gardiner Farmers’ Market first day of the season. Dave and Anne Rogers of Dancing Meadow Farm had early-June greens including Swiss chard, arugula, kale, radishes and a mesclun mix. “We mostly sell veggies,” said Anne Rogers, who was happy to announce that she and her husband’s farm just received a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant for an 80-foot hoop house, which is a tunnel-shaped greenhouse where the seeds or seedlings are planted directly into the ground.
Asked why she has always participated in the Farmers’ Market, she said, “I like meeting people, seeing friends and helping to provide a community space. You see markets like this all over Europe, and they’re a great place to get fresh produce and bread and cheeses; but they’re also a way of creating community.”
Local grower Insook Cheon also had many of the same staples as the Rogers’, but throughout the season offers a variety of Asian vegetables that are not easy to find, particularly organically grown. “I grow Asian garlic, chives, Asian zucchini and cucumbers, which are both so tender, so delicious.” She also grows and sells bok choy, tatsoi and sesame seed leaves.
There were one-of-a-kind baked goods, breads, goat cheese, organic free-range eggs, chicken and beef, as well as scrumptious super-food items from Honey Brook Farms, a family-run honey farm since 1968. “We have 100 producing hives,” said Todd Widmark, who explained why the Farms’ wildflower honey “is delicious and great for people with allergies, because it has so many different flowers and pollens in it.”
There is buckwheat honey, which is good to “suppress a cough or a cold,” and then there are jars of freshly gathered pollen, which Widmark calls a “super-food. It’s so chockfull of vitamins, it’s unbelievable.” He said that you could mix it into a smoothie, yogurt or, like himself, “have it with toast, honey and cinnamon and sprinkle it on top. Tastes like a Danish, only it’s healthy!”
Over in Highland, they’re gearing up for their annual Farmers’ Market, which will begin on Wednesday, June 20 from 3 to 7 p.m. in the Village Field (behind the Methodist Church in the Village). “One of our anchor vendors is Wilklow’s Farm,” said Kate Jonietz, who is on the Town’s Events Committee, as well as being the confidential secretary to the supervisor.