SCHENECTADY – The Farmer’s Almanac cites ‘The early bird catches the worm,’ as one of its seven reasons to rise early – the same could be said for the second annual veggie swap provided by the Schenectady Farm Bureau.
For a dozen eggs you can get an apron full of zucchini; for a few tomatoes you could go home with a few jars of honey. No cash needed; but get there early.
“Last year it was too spread out, from 2 to 5 p.m.” Schenectady Farm Bureau vice-president, Jeff Klein, said. “The first 15 minutes is the best time.”
“People would wait for an hour and no one would come to make an agreement,” added Mike Nally, Schenectady Farm Bureau president.
The weekly swap, which was held in Scotia last year, has not only relocated to the Schenectady Trading Company at 609 Union Street, but also takes place over a shorter period of time: now, there's only one hour to trade produce, fruit, eggs and almost any farm-friendly item.
This year's swaps will be held every Sunday, from 2 to 3 p.m., through Sept. 13.
"Caroline [Bardwell] who owns the Schenectady Trading Company, she's into local products, local business, she offers to sponsor us,” Klein said. “This is more central, more urban, we'll see what happens.”
No cash is accepted, unless you want to make a $1 donation to help defray the stand's costs. The remaining transactions are produce for produce or product.
“A lot of our members are full-time farmers and sell at markets; we did not want to compete with people who are making a living at it,” Klein said. “This is much better, this is just backyard gardeners that have excess produce, grew too many peppers, tomatoes, we swap and it's a win. We're not hurting people who are farming for a living.
“Schenectady is an unusual county in that we don't have a lot of really big farms,” Klein said. “Farm Bureau has historically been 100- to 1,000-acre farms, but in Schenectady County, we're working to make it more applicable to our service population which is small farms and gardeners.”
Klein owns the Hungry Chicken Country Store on River Road in Schenectady while Nally produces honey and raises Hereford Beef cattle.
“It's a presence to let people know the Farm Bureau actually exists and we can be in touch with the community and you can stop wasting some food,” Nally said. “Some of our inspiration is that we can donate to a food bank if we have a lot of extra, also composting if it's overripe and unusable instead of it being in a garbage [can]."
It’s also part of an outreach program for the Schenectady Farm Bureau.
"Melissa [MacKinnon] is here from the Urban Farm and it's exciting of growing more in city areas,” Nally said. “There is land, there can be green houses, and there is youth. I think new farmers are going to be different than what our traditional farmer has been.”
Klein and Nally are both avid traders and look forward to some return customers at the new location.
“Last year, we had a woman who made muffins and cookies and every week I would trade cucumbers and eggs for muffins and cookies,” Klein said. “It was great!”
Learn more about the Farm Bureau at www.nyfb.org.
Reach Stan Hudy at [email protected] and follow on Twitter @StanHudy.