Editor’s note: An older story about the proposed farmers market was re-published by mistake in the Thursday edition.
NISKAYUNA — Town officials voted Tuesday to delay plans to establish a weekly farmers’ market.
The Town Board tabled a licensing agreement that would permit former Niskayuna Food Co-op marketing director Ben Wallach to use the town’s center to sell farm-to-fork goods.
Supervisor Yasmine Syed and board members will meet with Wallach to further discuss the market plan. Some things have already changed — a new day and location are in the works.
Having the market on Saturdays at Town Hall has been ruled out. Friday afternoon at River Road Park is the new preferred venue.
But Wallach, contacted on Wednesday, wondered whether a start so late in the farm market season could be achieved.
“We had 25 signed up and ready to go on the 15th (June),” Wallach said. “Now, it’s been postponed to — the earliest — July 13. The days have been switched from Friday to Saturday, now back to Friday. Complete obstruction by the Town Board. If you don’t want it, vote no and stop wasting everybody’s time.”
Wallach, who said he has organized farmers markets for the past five years, said vendors are now locked in at other places. He believes the delay in approval has become a political issue.
Syed believes the market can still happen.
“I haven’t talked to him (Wallach), so I’m sad that he feels that way,” Syed said. “I don’t get that impression from the vendors — certainly people I know, and if the (Niskayuna Food) co-op is excited about this or wants to partner, I know N-CAP (Niskayuna Community Action Program) … has been super excited about the whole idea.”
Earlier this week, officials said the Niskayuna market was going to run Saturdays at Town Hall. That would have put the new enterprise in conflict with the established market on Upper Union Street in Schenectady. Farmers sell their goods there on Saturdays during spring and summer — in the municipal lot behind Upper Union’s Trustco Bank.
“We certainly don’t want to be pulling vendors from a market,” Syed said at Tuesday’s meeting. “We don’t want to set ourselves up as a competing interest; that’s not good for the community as a whole.”
According to the farmers market Facebook page, the original plan was to have the market from noon to 4 p.m. Fridays at Town Hall. Some people complained those hours — before the weekend kicks off — would not be convenient.
“The available hours are awful,” one woman said. “People are working during those hours and therefore can’t go to it.”
“No weekends?” said another. “Working.”
Syed also said Fridays at Town Hall would have been challenging, with people coming to do business in town offices.
The latest plan would bring fruits, vegetables, cheeses, baked goods and other items to the town’s River Road Park on Friday afternoons.
“There’s a lot of green space there,” Syed said of the park. “We can look at the calendar. Certainly, we won’t be holding a farmers market if there’s a Little League girls’ game or something.”
Denise Murphy McGraw, who chairs the town’s highways and public facilities committee, said residents have asked the Town Board to consider a green market in Niskayuna.
“We are trying to figure out if there is a need and a time that does not conflict with other successful area markets,” McGraw said Wednesday in an email. “We are going to bring together interested residents and the proposed market manager early next week to determine if we can do something to benefit the residents and carve our own niche.”
Donna Evans, a member of the Niskayuna Food Co-op Board of Directors, spoke during the privilege of the floor session at Tuesday’s meeting and asked board members to consider the impact a market would have on the community.
Evans was hoping an advisory committee could be formed, and discussions about the market could be had.
“We’d like to be a part of those discussions,” she said.
Evans added that the co-op shares the same values as a farmers market — healthy food choices and the sale of locally produced food.
“I think what we’d like to find to do is find out more information about it,” Evans said after the meeting. “If we share the values, and we’re dealing with the same farmers and the same folks coming up with these products, there may be opportunities for collaboration.”
Syed knows there’s a time crunch involved. Farmers are selling at markets now, though some fruits and vegetables will not be plentiful until later in the summer.
“It’s a process, and we want to get it right,” Syed said. “If we could launch in mid-July — and that would be asking a lot — I think that would be a big accomplishment.”
Interested vendors available on Friday afternoons are being encouraged to contact the Niskayuna Farmers Market Faceook page or write: Niskayuna Farmers Market, 2215 Nott St., #170, Niskayuna, NY 12309.
Contact Daily Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]