Farmers market joins state program

Sharon Springs is playing a role in a new statewide effort aimed at bringing healthier food choices

Sharon Springs is playing a role in a new statewide effort aimed at bringing healthier food choices to the area’s needy while helping new farms get their goods to market.

The village-sponsored Sharon Springs Farmers Market is one of 10 markets statewide taking part in the “New York Fresh Connect Farmers Markets” program launched this week, according to the office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The effort promises various forms of assistance, including money, to help with the growth of the farmers markets, considered an important source of healthy food for the poor, senior citizens and women with young children.

“Farmers’ markets increase farm sales and revenue by bringing farm produce directly to the consumer. These markets also help underserved communities by providing fresh produce, nutritional education and local jobs,” Cuomo said in a release issued Tuesday.

Started in a trial-run capacity last year with three vendors, the Sharon Springs Farmers Market has grown to feature products from eight vendors this year, manager Kate Miller said.

Guests at the market will find fresh vegetables, buffalo meat, poultry and eggs, fresh yogurt, a variety of organic berries and early cucumbers and tomatoes grown in a greenhouse.

“We’re really excited that we were able to be part of this program our first official year,” Miller said.

The state is putting money and assistance into the effort, providing up to $15,000 to each market and offering services to help with farmer recruitment, marketing and promotion and nutrition education, among others.

The Sharon Springs market was approved for just under $15,000, Miller said, money that will help consumers get even more veggies for their dollars.

Senior citizens, mothers with young children participating in the Women, Infants and Children program, and struggling families using Food Stamp benefits will be able to buy $15 worth of market tokens for only $10.

“So they’re increasing their buying power for healthy, local food,” Miller said.

The grant funding will make up the difference, she said.

Miller said she’s working to broaden the market’s reach as well. She said farmers and residents with too much in their gardens are dropping off surplus items, which will go to the local food pantry instead of into compost.

“There’s people that are definitely in need of food locally. If they can’t come to the market, we still want to give them access to that,” Miller said.

The Sharon Springs Farmers Market is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through October. It’s located on Main Street in the village opposite the Roseboro Hotel and the Beekman 1802 store.

Categories: Schenectady County

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