A new farmers market will open for business on Saturday, Aug. 2, outside the Walter Elwood Museum of the Mohawk Valley at The Rao Center on Church Street.
Ben Wallach, marketing director for the Niskayuna Co-op, has been helping spread the word about the new market. It won’t be the first in the city, and he knows it takes time for farmers markets to grow, but the goal is to be as big as the Schenectady Greenmarket.
According to Wallach, the goal of the market is to have 15 vendors for food and 10 for crafts. The purpose is to showcase local goods, such as gourmet foods and farm items.
“It’s serving an underserved community that doesn’t have a lot of choices for food,” he explained. “It’s an empty parking lot, and now there’s going to be a lot of economic activity, and that’s a wonderful thing.”
The market will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday for 10 weeks.
Alessandro Gerbini, founder and president of Gatherer’s Granola, a Schenectady-based maker of granola products, has signed his company up to be one of the vendors at the new market.
“This seems like a really nice opportunity to involve a bit more with the Amsterdam community,” he said.
Gerbini said he understands the importance of farmers markets for businesses. He started out making granola from a family recipe and selling it at the Delmar Farmers Market in 2010. Back then, making granola was a hobby for him, but when customers reacted positively to the granola and told him to start selling it in stores, he realized the potential of the product.
Now, he has seven full-time and six part-time employees and his product is sold at Shoprite, Price Chopper and natural food retailers.
Gerbini said a farmers market is an ideal place for local vendors to test out new products and receive customer feedback.
“I’m sure the market in Amsterdam can serve as a test bed for new companies and new products, especially in regards to food,” he said.
A random sampling of pedestrians in downtown Amsterdam on Thursday found some enthusiasm for the new venture.
“I am excited and looking forward to a Saturday farmers market,” said Fabrizia Rodriguez, director of the community development initiative at Centro Civico Inc., a community service organization.
For Rodriguez, the scheduling of the market on a Saturday will make things a lot easier for people who work during the week. As a city resident, she usually does most of her shopping by driving to supermarkets along Route 30 in the town of Amsterdam on weekends. She said lower-income city residents who don’t have transportation can’t easily shop like she does, so a farmers market would help them.
Kathy Robles, who lives on Kline Street, and Carmen Cortes, who lives on Elizabeth Street, said they would both be within walking distance of the new market, instead of having to drive to places in the town of Amsterdam for groceries, saving gas and time.
“It would make life easier for the both of us,” Robles said.
Curtiss and Barbara Clements, who live on Clizbe Avenue, also drive to the town of Amsterdam for their groceries. Since losing his full-time job in 2011, he’s been working a series of part-time jobs, and the couple has been looking to economize. A farmers market with fresh fruits and vegetables at an affordable price would be a good thing for them, he explained.
“We know that fresh is always better for the diet,” he added.