A year-round farmers’ market in has been launched in downtown Albany.
The farmers’ market at SUNY Plaza comes under Governor Andrew Cuomo's FreshConnect program, giving area farmers the opportunity to market their produce locally. It's also designed to bring fresh food to communities.
SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher: "SUNY Plaza is a perfect place to bring people. What brings people? A Farmer's Market! So I think we really meet our goal, which is to open up the plaza to the general public, see the artwork of our students and the wonderful architecture, and then to do a service for these communities through the farmers market, buying locally, acknowledging the work that our agricultural business small and big farms do and then get them to SUNY Plaza to go shopping, so it works for everybody."
Richard Rugen is with Hope Valley Farm in Hamilton County. He says farmers’ markets link the community closer to its source of food. "Children in particular have no idea where their vegetables come from. Or for that matter their meat or milk or cider or fruit. They think it all comes from the supermarket."
The farmers’ market brings back the long-gone family farm roadside stands, but together in one place. Danielle Carolei drove up from Millbrook to represent Hudson Valley Fresh Milk and dairy products. "It's actually a co-op of 10 dairy farms in the Hudson Valley region - Dutchess, Ulster and Columbia County. We have one farm that's been in the same family since the 1800's."
SUNY Plaza will host the farmers’ market every Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. near the intersection of State Street and Broadway. During inclement weather and the winter months, the market will be held inside System Administration’s first floor gallery.
Frank Stanton, president of the Capital District Farmers Market Association, encourages health-conscious folks to stop by. "You can't beat it - nothin' like local fresh everything from your carrots vegetables right to your honey..."
New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton emphasizes it’s important to buy local. "...the money stays local and you know your farmer. I thinks its always important you know where your food is coming from and you have a could rapport with your farmer."
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan says she's thrilled to have a farmers’ market in the heart of downtown Albany, where some neighborhoods face high poverty rates and are far from grocery stores, making it difficult to find fresh food. "This is so exciting to see this land, this community space, really opened up and used, and I believe that it is just the very beginning."
Sheehan promises "more engagement in public spaces."
Chancellor Zimpher also highlighted the university system’s coordinated farm-to-market procurement program, “SUNY Commits, in which campuses agree ahead of growing season to collectively purchase locally-grown or processed foods to be procured in dining halls. The program launched in October with the purchase of 1,000 gallons of tomato sauce by 12 SUNY campuses. SUNY is seeking to expand the program to include more SUNY colleges in the coming years, as well as more New York products, such as meats, fruits, and vegetables.
Vendors at SUNY Plaza include:
- Meredith’s Country Bakery, Ulster County – pies, bread, muffins, gluten free, quiche, pot pies
- Bulich Creekside Farms, Greene County – vegetables, fruit, flowers, mushrooms, sweet corn
- Good Day Honey, Southern Albany County – raw local honey, creamed honey, farm fresh eggs, beeswax candles, soap, body butter, and lip balm
- Hope Valley Farm, Hamilton County – certified naturally-grown vegetables, annual and perennial plants, garlic
- Rheingold Farm, Rensselaer County – hanging baskets, herbs, vegetable seedlings, salad greens, tomatoes, eggplant, beans, melons, squashes, potatoes, and berries
- Scotch Ridge Berry Farm, Schenectady County – raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, vegetable seedlings for your garden
- Meadow Lark Farm, Orange County – bouquets of country cut flowers
- Worldling’s Pleasure, Albany County – cheese spreads, and baked goods including cheesecakes, tarts, and cookies
- Euro Delicacies, Albany County – ready-to-eat authentic Mediterranean foods
- Cravings Too, Inc, Albany County – caramel popcorn, roasted nuts
- Little River Farm, Columbia County – apples, pears, peaches, plums, grapes, cherries, and chestnuts
- Nine Pin Cider Works, Albany County – craft ciders from 100% Capital District and Hudson Valley New York apples. Nine Pin Cider Works, located in downtown Albany, has the distinction of being New York's first-ever licensed farm cidery.
The FreshConnect program was the first step in Governor Cuomo’s "Farm New York" initiative to invest in the state's agriculture industry, a vital component of the state's economy. Currently in its fourth year, the FreshConnect Farmers’ Market program has increased capacity for farmers to directly market their products to consumers while providing New Yorkers in underserved communities with new opportunities to purchase farm fresh products. Since its inception the Fresh Connect Program has funded more than 90 projects throughout the state and allocated more than $1 million.For more information about the FreshConnect Farmers’ Market program, please visit: freshconnect.ny.gov.