The sun’s rays poured down Saturday morning across the circular grass field just outside of Niskayuna Town Hall, where people mingled and purchased items at some of the 15 tents at the Niskayuna Farmers’ Market’s opening day.
Many of the shoppers remarked that it was a beautiful weekend for opening day as they moved from tent to tent, perusing the wares of the various vendors.
Two of those shoppers were Pete and Deb Capobianco of Schenectady.
“It’s nice,” said Pete Capobianco.
“It’s a great way to spend a Saturday,” Deb Capobianco added.
The two had stopped by the table hosted by St. Anthony’s Church to purchase some pepper and wine cookies.
The pepper cookies were the number one seller, followed by the wine cookies, said Trish Przybylo, a member of the church.
Przybylo said it was exciting to be back at the market, after the church was not a vendor last year due to the pandemic.
This year’s farmers’ market will run every Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. until Oct. 16, according to farmers’ market committee member Donna Evans.
The number of vendors also increased this year, said committee chair Libbie Cococcia. An average of 15 vendors will be present each week this year, up from 10 last year.
The idea Cococcia said was to create a market for anyone to visit, “so it’s not just a market, it’s a place for people to do things.”
“Once the COVID restrictions were lifted, that was our opportunity to make the market what we wanted it to be,” Evans said.
Evans said they’ve added activities on select weekends for both kids and adults. Next Saturday, July 17 will be the first, featuring crafts with the Girl Scouts and an appearance by Mr. Twisty, who will create balloon shapes for shoppers.
A master gardener from Schenectady County Cornell Cooperative Extension will also be on hand next week to provide advice on gardening. Evans said people can even bring a soil sample for review or a picture of a plant that might be getting eaten to determine what is munching at it.
Also new this year is the market’s participation in the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program provides coupons for people on the Women, Infants and Children’s (WIC) program and senior citizens to buy select food items at the market.
As part of the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, Schenectady County has 940 coupon books to distribute to seniors who meet certain income criteria. Last year, 835 of 950 coupon books were distributed, while 974 of 980 books were handed out in 2019.
At least two new vendors were on hand for opening day.
Market committee member Elizabeth Paul signed up to have a table for 10 weeks, where she is selling jewelry, other accessories, and plants to raise money for a friend in India who has cancer.
Another new vendor was Erikraft Designs, which was selling handmade goods, including reusable produce bags and jars of soap.
Owner Erika Felpel said the market is a great way to get her business out there, especially in an area she calls home.
“I worked in Niskayuna for most of my life, so it’s familiar to me,” she said.
But it would not be a farmers’ market without fruits and vegetables, which was exactly what Kim McNamee was looking for when she stopped at Glenville Farm’s table looking for green squash and lettuce.
“I like to support the local people,” she said.
Cococcia said 588 people attended Saturday’s market.
For more information about the farmers’ market, visit the market’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NiskyFM/.
To see if you qualify for a coupon book, call county Senior Services Coordinator Kathleen Albert at 518-382-8481 ext. 9304.