Farmers market slated to open

Breads, cheeses, vegetables and flowers will return to the city’s open air farmers market this weeke
Deb Schwalbach sorts through a bin of apples at Saratoga Apple in Schuylerville on Tuesday. The company will be among vendors at the seasonal opening of the Saratoga Farmers Market.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Deb Schwalbach sorts through a bin of apples at Saratoga Apple in Schuylerville on Tuesday. The company will be among vendors at the seasonal opening of the Saratoga Farmers Market.

Breads, cheeses, vegetables and flowers will return to the city’s open air farmers market this weekend.

The Saratoga Farmers Market kicks off its summer season at 9 a.m. Saturday and runs until 1 p.m. Saturdays and 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays.

By June 1, market organizers hope to have a debit and credit card machine at the market so buyers can charge a certain amount at a central station and then use special tokens at any of the stalls.

The tokens can then be used anytime the farmers market is open, and can be used in future years as well, said market coordinator Suzanne Carreker-Voigt.

Carreker-Voigt said the market will get charged per transaction, so she hopes people won’t charge small amounts.

So many local notables have said they’re coming to the annual opening on Saturday that market coordinator Suzanne Carreker-Voigt said she’ll have to stock up on scissors.

“We usually do one of those comic ribbon-cutting ceremonies,” she said.

Expected to be in attendance are Mayor Scott Johnson; Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco; William Schwerd, executive director of the Saratoga County Cooperative Extension; Paula Schafer, vice president of the Battenkill Cooperative Kitchen; Patrick Hooker, commissioner of the state Department of Agriculture and Markets; and Al Lansbury, one of the founders of the farmers market.

The farmers’ market runs indoors during the colder months in the Salvation Army building; but the outdoor market is far more popular, she said. While the winter market attracts about 1,000 people on a Saturday, the summer market brings in at least 3,000 per Saturday.

In July and August, “Saturdays are like sardine cans,” Carreker-Voigt said.

This year there will be nine vendors instead of four on the park’s south lawn, where new vendors sell before they get enough seniority to move into the pavilion.

New vendors include a fresh milk vendor, a new cheese seller and a new baker, she said. And all the regular vendors remain.

“We’re maxed out. We have a waiting list of vendors to get in.”

With the warm spell last week and more farmers growing vegetables in greenhouses, Carreker-Voigt expects the market to carry a lot more fresh food than it usually does at this time of year.

“We now have greenhouses on these farms that are producing greens all year round.”

Saratoga Apple doesn’t use greenhouses, but plans to have asparagus in addition to apples it will take out of low-oxygen storage and apple cider, said owner Nate Darrow.

A nutrition educator from the cooperative extension prepares food at the farmers market every Wednesday starting in June, and a WIC and food stamp program agent helps people every Wednesday.

Unlike some other farmers markets, all vendors at the Saratoga market have to be members of the Saratoga Farmers Market Association. The board members who run the organization are all farmers as well, Carreker-Voigt said.

And products sold at the market must be produced locally.

“We have some fairly tight rules to be sure we remain close to our mission,” she said.

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