by Troy Bishopp
CLINTON, NY – Local farmers markets are open around New York State, but they look and act a bit differently these days. New health-related signage, one-way arrows, masks, hand sanitizing and social distancing are a way of life this summer while buying from your favorite local vendor.
In Clinton, market manager and Chamber of Commerce executive director Jackie Walters is adapting the important 20-year resource to the realities of COVID-19. With clicker in hand, she monitors how many people are entering the Thursday market while making sure everyone understands their personal health procedures so it will be a safe and healthy buying experience.
“We had to make the hard decision to limit our market to 32 vendors from 70, and discontinue cooking demonstrations, forms of entertainment, seating and food trucks,” said Walters. “It’s certainly not ideal but serving over 1,000 customers per week locally produced products is a valuable mission when many residents aren’t traveling very far from home.”
The market, on the village green, is still a robust, friendly place to meet and visit with local farmers, even behind the mask. One can fill up their pantry with local meat, eggs, fruit, vegetables, bakery goods, maple syrup, soap, jams, flowers and kimchi. The farmers seem quite happy with the resiliency measures and have benefitted from a more concentrated buyer.
Tom Geer from Goatchard Farms in Vernon, NY, said, “Customers continually want fresh, with a story. Considering there are no food trucks and the regular market attractions, it’s really busy.” Kelly Perrin and son Silas, from Sherburne’s Quarry Brook Farm, said their sales of local meat and eggs are up over 100%. Mark V. Weiss of Lans Flower Farm in Clay, NY, an eight-year market vendor, quipped, “The pandemic has been very good for business as customers engage locally. Our sales are up over 50%.”
Remsen’s Slate Creek Farms owner Jennifer Rankin said her meat sales are also up over 100%. “Customers are trying new cuts and expanding their home cooking skills, which are great for local farms like us,” she emphasized. “A lot of customers have a list and know what they want or they call ahead and pick up their orders at the market. I have seen a huge success in partnering with other local farms to provide a bigger variety of food choices. We’re all helping each other out like never before. It’s what farmers do.”
The next time you visit a local farmers market, prepare for health-related and foot traffic changes. Follow the one-way arrows to delicious, local products. Before visiting Clinton, check out the market’s Facebook page, facebook.com/ClintonNYFarmersMarket, for the latest news.