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Growers look to re-establish local farmers market

SARANAC The return of a local farmers market could be on the horizon for the town. Local residents are banding together to reestablish a market at Saranac Town Hall on State Route 3, with the hope of it being open as early as this June. Town resident Monica Clark is spearheading the initiative with the assistance of Jane Desotelle, executive director of the Adirondack Farmers Market Cooperative, an organization which promotes and manages farmers markets in the Adirondack region. Ms. Clark and Ms. Desotelle recently attended a town board meeting at which Ms. Clark mentioned she has had contact from several local producers interested in initiating a new farmers market in the pavilion located to the rear of the town hall. The last time a market was offered in the town of Saranac was in the 1990s, she said. The interest is out there, said Ms. Clark, who will serve as market manager. We want people to be able to sell their food here and buy their food here. This is something were invested in. Currently, the closest markets to the town are in Plattsburgh, which can be a costly drive for local residents, given the cost of gas, she said. The last thing people want to do is to get in their cars and drive to Plattsburgh; theyre driving less, said Ms. Clark. People are going to shop locally if given the option. Having a farmers market closer to home is also beneficial for those who like the one-on-one relationship they can build with vendors, said Ms. Desotelle, something you cant get from the frozen food section at a supermarket. People look forward to going to a farmers market and meeting the person whos growing the food their eating, said Ms. Desotelle, who also operates her own business in Chateaugay, Underwood Herbs. Ms. Clark proposed the market would be held Saturday afternoons throughout the summer, tentatively from 12-4 p.m., though the hours would initially be determined on vendor availability. Farmers, growers, honey and maple producers, crafters and bakers would be among the typical vendors who would be featured at the market, she said, and basically anyone who makes their own products. Regular vendors would be charged a nominal fee, while nonprofit organizations would be offered space free of charge to provide information to market-goers. Nutritional and agricultural information groups and organizations like the Master Gardeners, volunteers trained by Cornell Cooperative Extension to educate others about gardening, would be among that list, Ms. Desotelle said. As the market grows, entertainment would also likely become a welcome addition to the weekly event. We want this to be something people look forward to on Saturday afternoons, said Ms. Clark. The market would also appeal to a range of income levels, from low-income families seeking the freshest food with the Electronic Benefit Transfer system more commonly known as EBT or food stamps to people leaving the Plattsburgh area to visit Lake Placid on the weekend, Ms. Clark said. The goal is also to be able honor checks from the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program and accept debit and credit cards as methods of payment. We want to be cutting edge, said Ms. Clark. Saranac Supervisor Joe Gerardi said the program has the support of the full board of trustees as it will mean offering local foods with fewer pesticides and supporting the local economy. Im very excited about this personally, Supervisor Gerardi said regarding the farmers market. I would love to see something like that occupy the pavilion. Ideally, Ms. Clark said she would like to have 10-15 vendors available at the market on a weekly basis. Those interested in participating as a vendor at the planned farmers market in Saranac may contact Ms. Clark at 293-8226. More information about the Adirondack Farmers Market Cooperative, including how to advertise with the cooperative for its 2008 market listing brochure, may be found on-line at www.adirondackfarmersmarket.com or by calling Ms. Desotelle at 425-3306.

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