The Schenectady Greenmarket is back outdoors — and vendors and customers are thrilled, even if the weather wasn’t helping Sunday.
The weekly farmers’ market moved outdoors for the warm months on a day when a jacket was needed and a drizzle never stopped.
Those selling local foods had tents, though, and they were generally big enough to shelter customers.
“We’re glad to be out here, and hopefully next week it will be bright and sunny,” said Greenmarket manager Jennifer Jennings.
The 8-year-old market runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Sunday on Jay Street and Franklin streets outside City Hall, after having spent the winter indoors, at Proctors.
The market again has full use of Jay Street this year, after having to work around barriers last year, during the cleanup from the March 2015 Jay Street fire that destroyed two large buildings and cost four lives.
Most of the 70 vendors also sell at the winter market inside nearby Proctors, but those selling locally farmed and homemade goods said the crowd is definitely bigger once the market is back outside.
“It feels more like what people think a farmers’ market should feel like,” said Andy Morris of Schenectady, arriving with 4-year-old Gibson and 8-month-old Samuel to meet their mother, Mary Moore Wallinger, who is on the market’s board of directors.
“We’re here every weekend. It’s part of the fabric of our lives,” Morris said. “It’s great to see it so thriving.”
“We’re excited,” said Peter Bowe of Schenectady, who was shopping Sunday morning with Michele Lupe of Schenectady.
“It’s great that it’s year-round, in Proctors, but outside is more community, more festival-y.”
“It’s great inside, but out here there’s a lot more energy and a lot more people,” said Nemo, who goes by a single name and was selling flavored hummus on behalf of Freddy’s Rocking Hummus of Sharon Springs.
Palantine Cheese of Nelliston was offering about 20 different flavors of cheddar and cheese curds, with plenty of samples. Each sample tray was held down by a little fake rat.
“Obviously it would be nice if it was warmer,” said Jeff Hill, whose grandfather founded the cheese making business 15 years ago. “We’re pushing toward that.”
Other year-round farmers markets in the Capital Region, including Troy’s and the two in Saratoga Springs, are also moving outside starting this week, in anticipation of warmer weather and the arrival of the traditional growing season.
The Schenectady Greenmarket’s move outdoors was also used as a kickoff for the Solarize Schenectady County program, a grant-supported effort to get people to install solar panels on their homes, using group purchasing power to lower the cost.
“We’re trying to simplify the process. It’s very confusing to do it on an individual basis,” said Mark Klein, one of the program’s organizers.
The program is working with Liberty Solar of Buffalo to be the installer of photovoltaic panels on homes and businesses. Organizers said that historically, group purchasing lowers the cost of solar installations 10 to 20 percent.
“Our main goal is to educate people that solar energy can work here,” said Peter Lion, who was walking around the market in a “solar” costume to promote the program.
U.S. Rep. Paul D. Tonko, D-Amsterdam, attended the kickoff and said the market was a good place to reach people who might be interested in adopting solar energy.
“I think that people who go to greenmarkets or farmers’ markets are thinking innovatively,” Tonko said. “The food is locally sourced, so there’s less energy use.”
Tonko, a former chairman of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the cost of photovoltaic panels has dropped 50 percent since 2010, and Solarize Schenectady County should drop the cost further.
“2015 was a very good year for solar, and I think 2016 will be better,” Tonko said. “If we’re going to address climate change, it needs to be through conservation and renewables.”
Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.