Riverhead Winter Farmers Market to Reopen Downtown

Riverhead Farmers Market Facebook photo
Riverhead Farmers Market Facebook photo

 The Riverhead Winter Farmers’ Market will re-open this Saturday, Nov. 25, thanks to new sponsorship by the non-profit LI Greenmarket Inc.

The indoor Farmers Market will operate on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through March 31, 2018 at its original location in the old Sweezey’s Building at 117 East Main Street.

The market will offer winter produce and locally-made foods and homegoods from several Long Island farmers and small-batch producers.

LI Greenmarket Inc. will also share healthy recipes, organize special events, accept SNAP, EBT, and WIC benefits for purchasing, and hope to launch the LI Freshbox Program from this location in partnership with Northwell Health and Cornell Cooperative Extension – Suffolk County.

Early this Fall, the Riverhead Farmers Market was in danger of not opening for the 2017/2018 season. After several years of operating the market space, the Riverhead Business Improvement District Management Association determined they could no longer sponsor the seasonal event.

The space rental was too costly and the challenges in sustainability grew too great. In the winter, market organizers have to cover costs such as heat and rental of indoor space, which are not present during the outdoor, summer months. Raising vendor fees to cover these costs, in addition to staffing and promotion, does not help support fledgling food entrepreneurs or hard-working small family farmers. But, the presence of the market is crucial to the success of these businesses.

With that in mind, Lucy Senesac, farm manager at Sang Lee Farms in Peconic, contacted Bernadette Market, Director of LI Greenmarket Inc. to see if the non-profit organization could take over.

LI Greenmarket Inc. runs farmers markets, school gardening and farming programs, and installs community gardens to help support the Long Island food-shed.

The newly declared non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization has been working since 2007 to provide fresh food access, offer vocational education, and promote the opportunity for family farms and small-batch food producers to have a platform for business.

Director Bernadette Martin is enthusiastic about taking on the Riverhead Farmers Market’s operations.

“We have strong support with some regional partners to continue with some great new initiatives for community health and I think that Riverhead is a terrific community to begin to serve, especially through the winter months,” says Martin. “Our team is very excited to help and hopefully grow the Market here.”

“Downtown Riverhead is fortunate to have many special attractions, including access to the Peconic River, the Long Island Aquarium and proximity to nearby farms and vineyards,” said Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter. “It is my sincere belief that Riverhead Farmers Market under the auspices of LI Greenmarket Inc. will grow into another regional attraction that will draw thousands of people to the downtown business district during the winter season.”

There are still operational challenges in ensuring that this Farmers Market will grow to be sustainable. Because of this, Lucy Senesac decided to help boost the start of this new partnership by appealing to the community with a GoFundMe Campaign. The money raised during this efforts will go directly to pay for the rent and utilities. Her goal is $5,000 and hopes that by starting the season off with the community’s help will set the stage for a successful 2017/2018 season. As of Nov. 21, the campaign had raised $1,505.

More information about the Riverhead Farmers Market is online here.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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