The Schenectady Greenmarket moved outside for the summer season on Sunday morning, to the delight and excitement of both vendors and shoppers.
Since 2008, the Schenectady Greenmarket has been embraced as a local and accessible place to buy fresh local produce and artisan goods in a social community atmosphere.
Every week, vendors donate bushels of fresh produce, loaves of artisan bread and dozens of eggs to the Schenectady Inner City Ministry Food Pantry, the City Mission, Safe House, Booth Home, and the Salvation Army with the help of volunteers from Capital Roots' Squash Hunger Program.
More than 50 vendors, ranging from farmers to distillers and craft brewers, bakers, artisans and restaurant operators, participate in the outside market. Not only are all of the vendors are locally based, but they often spend their weekends traveling to one or more of the area's farmers' markets during the summer season, including those in Troy, Colonie and Saratoga Springs, in addition to the Schenectady Greenmarket.
While the market is held inside Proctors between November and April, it moves outside City Hall and stretches down Jay Street during the months of May through October. The market is sponsored by a variety of individuals and groups, including the Jay Street Business Association, the City of Schenectady, the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation, Metroplex and Proctors.
The Daily Gazette visited the market on Sunday and chatted with both shoppers and vendors to find out what exactly they love about the market and its seasonal move back outdoors.
Name: Shelley Riley
Riley, who was visiting family in Rexford for the weekend, was enjoying her first Greenmarket experience on Sunday morning.
"I love it. I love the music, I love the variety," she said. Riley's arms were packed with fresh herbs, including thyme, basil, sage and rosemary she had purchased from the market and will put in her garden, provided a late frost doesn't come sometime soon. Farmers markets like the Greenmarket, she said, are also enjoyable because they're low key and offer a peaceful place for people to gather and be together as a community.
"It's partly social, I think," she said.
Name: Reuben Schwartz
Schwartz, of Ballston Spa, was manning his Vital Eats booth on Sunday, which specializes in plant-based products, including salsas, cheese dips, and more recently, jerky. Schwartz said, for his booth, he notices a doubling of customers when the market moves outside. On Sunday, while he was focusing on explaining his new vegetarian jerky products to customers, he noted that people still bought his longtime staples, like salsa.
Markets are important, Schwartz said, because they provide basically free advertising and access to consumers that, in other situations, might cost thousands of dollars for businesses.
"We couldn't have started this without farmers markets. It's great marketing," he said.
Name: Ben and Elizabeth Hoffman
Ben Hoffman was with his young daughter, Elizabeth, at a coloring booth on Sunday as the two waited for Elizabeth’s mother, who was standing in line elsewhere in the market to make a purchase.
The Rotterdam family made the trek to the market on Sunday specifically for the variety of fresh produce offered.
“We came here to get vegetables today. We always try to get something new,” he said.
Name: Marcie Place
Place, from Saratoga and owner and baker at The Chocolate Spoon, was off to a busy start on Sunday as potential customers came in and out of her booth to check out her sweet merchandise.
Outdoor farmer markets, Place said, offer a vibrancy that is usually lacking when the markets are held indoors.
“Winter markets are fun but the vibe is very sleepy. The vibe today is totally different,” she said.
Sunday marked her seventh year attending farmers markets, but her first year in Schenectady. Place said her customers’ favorites tend to vary from her classic chocolate chip cookies, to her newer flavors such as lavender and vanilla.
As he called shoppers over to his stand, Nemo, of Schenectady, said that his products, a variety of locally brewed vodkas and whiskeys, were great for any time of the day or night, though noon is when the farmer's market tends to become the most busy for him.
Nemo previously sold hummus at the market, but leaped at the chance to work with Yankee Distillery based out of Clifton Park, he said.
"Anytime is the time for whiskey," he said.
Name: Kim Halliday
Halliday, of Fultonville, made a stop at the Yankee Distillery booth with her family to try some whiskey before moving on to the rest of the market.
Her first time visiting the Schenectady Greenmarket, Halliday was impressed with the variety of vendors offered.
“What better way to spend your Sunday?” she asked.
Name: Harry Kuchera
Kuchera, of Schenectady, was browsing the wares of different stalls while working with produce vendor Lovin’ Mama Farms. In his experience working as a vendor, people stick around longer when the market is outside, as opposed to the winter months, when customers are largely in and out with their shopping.
Many customers might not be at the outdoor market for the shopping, he said. Some come simply to grab lunch and listen to some music.
“It’s nice to see the community kind of hang out longer,” he said.
Name: Chris Abdoo
Abdoo, of Ballston, was walking through the market with his wife, Melissa, and his daughter, Elizabeth.
They were in the area after visiting the Open Door Bookstore on Sunday, where Elizabeth received an award after entering a writing contest. After seeing the festivities, he and his family decided to stick around, he said.
Not a regular patron of farmers' markets, Abdoo said that might change now that he's experienced the Greenmarket. It goes beyond shopping in a store, he said.
“There’s something different about it when they bring it outside,” he said.
Name: Melissa Abdoo
Melissa Abdoo joined her husband, Chris, and daughter, Elizabeth as a first-timer to the farmer's market. What caught her eye, she said, was the wide variety of fresh and local options, specifically vegetables.
“I think it’s great. It’s nice to buy local,” she said.
Name: Elizabeth Abdoo
Fresh off winning an award from the Open Door Bookstore for a creative story about waking up as a used teabag, Elizabeth Abdoo was wandering through the market with her parents in Sunday afternoon.
Though the detour had not been expected, it was a welcome one.
“I’m enjoying it,” she said.