by Troy Bishopp
COOPERSTOWN, NY — Legendary Cleveland Indians Pitcher, Bob Feller said, “Cooperstown is the greatest place on Earth.” In the historic village amongst the shadows of the iconic Hall of Fame and Doubleday Field lies another star player located in the former Leatherstocking Garage building just off Main Street. For baseball fans, opera singers, tourists and local residents, the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market hits a home run in the local food field of dreams — even in winter.
Founded in 1991 by the small 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Otsego 2000, along with the heated building donated by The Scriven Foundation, named in honor of Elizabeth Scriven Clark; the market serves as an outlet for local farmers and producers. “The in-kind generosity of the Clark family and the low vendor fees make it a feasible and popular place for our community,” said Ellen Pope, Otsego 2000 Executive Director.
The market’s philosophy is to encourage agricultural private enterprise that exists in a mutually beneficial relationship with downtown merchants. The mission of the market is to support local growers, producers, and artisans by promoting and providing a marketing outlet for their goods thereby aiding in the creation of sustainable farm operations in the Otsego county area.
According to the Otsego 2000 webpage, “The market increases farm profitability, which will help preserve the region’s rural, agricultural character and lifestyle; offers a low-cost marketing opportunity for small producers, which will encourage the local entrepreneurial spirit; creates a direct connection between producer and consumer, which will encourage the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and ideas; foster social gathering and interaction among residents, which will enhance the quality of life in Cooperstown and provide access, through an active participation in nutrition programs, to a low cost source of fresh, high quality food, which will promote a healthy well balanced diet for low income households.”
The year-round market is managed by a youthful, exuberant, passionate leader in Josie Maroney. Maroney started her storied career in food advocacy as a 2010 AmeriCorps Local Foods Access Coordinator in Chenango County and worked for Finger Lakes Fresh, a former hydroponic lettuce growing operation just outside of Ithaca, NY. She then spent almost seven years working as the Administrative Assistant at the Binghamton, NY based, Rural Health Network of SCNY, assisting individuals and families with finding health insurance, prescription assistance, food assistance, and many other resources.
“Learning about the economic, nutritional, and community benefits of local food was life-changing for me,” commented Maroney. “The need for nutritious food has resonated with me throughout my work, and led me to managing the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market. I am excited to be working with farmers and artisans who are passionate about their work. I enjoy learning how some vendors decided to move into full-time farming or artisanship, and watching their farms, businesses, and passions unfold. It is truly inspiring to see people so dedicated to growing, producing, and creating local food and goods.”
The “power-hitting” year round market with the tagline, “Rooted in Community”, features a lineup of 30 growers, farmers, and artisans, all located within 50 miles, providing fresh fruit and vegetables, meats and poultry, eggs, cheese, honey, maple syrup, jams, bread, baked goods, wines and spirits. Visitors can also get their hands on artisan craftwork, fibers including wool and alpaca, yarn, fleece, hides, pottery, beeswax candles and jewelry.
The market, which is known for toe-tapping entertainment, hearty locavore challenges, cookbook swaps and a recent grilled cheese fundraiser, was aptly named one of the 25 best in the nation by Parade magazine in 2018. It serves over 30,000 visitors each year. “That’s a lot of money going back into our local economy,” said Maroney.
Dan Zeh from Black Willow Pond Farm in Cobleskill said, “This market is very, very good to us. It’s also a pick-up point for our customers too.” Amy McKinnon of Mill Hollow Maple in Mount Vision said they have been at the market for 10 years and she really likes the connection with the customer. Rock Hill Farm’s, Jesse Pascale, from Mohawk, NY serves a local egg and cheese muffin to hungry guests. “After 4 years at the market, it’s been a remarkable place to reach my culinary and farm business goals.”
Don’t let the cold keep you away. The Cooperstown Farmer’s Market is a heated, year-round, indoor market.
To learn more contact: Josie Maroney, Market Manager at Market@otsego2000.org or 607.547.6195.