We can’t tell you how grateful we are for the response to our sponsor appeal from the community! The names of our benefactors are all listed near the bottom of each newsletter, here on our website, and at the market.
At this time, we wanted to fill you in on HOW these funds have been used (or are earmarked to be used).
Live music — thanks to Hillsdale General Store as well as several individual sponsors, our season of live music is funded. We happily kicked it off last week, and have talented local musicians booked all over the calendar.
Tables and Umbrellas — our “guardian angel” in this category is the Henry L. Kimelman Family Foundation, who gifted the Town of Hillsdale with funds for the improvement and benefit of the Roe Jan Park. The new tables are sturdy, accessible to all, and arriving soon!
SNAP matching — We are committed to supporting our SNAP (food stamp customers) by doubling their buying power. To make this possible, we needed a hefty amount of funding, and we got it! The dollar amount of SNAP sales has increased by 20% so far this season, a very encouraging direction.
Operating expenses — this “bucket” is where your donations went when you didn’t specify one of the categories above. So far, we used your funds to purchase ads in media that we normally couldn’t afford, allowing the news of our fabulous market to spread.
For example, we ran a small ad in Main Street Magazine’s July issue, to celebrate their article that highlighted several local markets including ours. We are also considering changes to our organizational structure, as well as our own charitable giving.
We were excited to hear that Main Street Magazine planned to honor farmers markets in their July issue. Farmers markets are such a vital part of the agricultural community, we were glad to see them get some high level coverage. In preparation for the article, Lindsey Clark contacted us with some background questions. The final article can be viewed HERE, but we thought you may enjoy reading our full answers to learn more about your favorite market!
How has your market grown or changed over time?
In so many ways! The community has always embraced us and supported our vendors, but that level of support and participation has grown tremendously. We now enjoy well over 20,000 guests a year, with a large number of weekly regulars. Our vendor base has also grown; we now spill out of the covered barn, and schedule over 30 vendors each week. This has allowed for wider product selection for customers, but also for greater exposure to local small businesses.
We’ve worked hard to provide all of the essentials you’d want on a weekly shopping trip, plus a lot of specialty items to add zip. Looking over the list of what our vendors collectively provide (www.
The spectacular vendors are the #1 draw, of course, and the live music is a hit. But our location in the Roe Jan Park is a notable attraction, itself (https://hillsdaleny.
In the past, we’ve scheduled some fun events throughout the season, such as Strawberry Festival, chef demos, “Dog Days” skills and looks contest, corn shucking speed test, and a unique tasting date at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. Many of these got put on ice because of COVID. Happily, an event that still remains in effect is the weekly Farm Market Kids program, a longtime partnership with the Roeliff Jansen Community Library that involves reading and activities at market.
We make serious efforts to be part of the community, it’s important to us. Just as they support us, we try to support them. The local food pantry and Blessing Box have been recipients of funding from us; a scholarship for a young up and coming farmer is awarded on behalf of the market’s founders, Timi Bates and Caroline Stewart, at the Taconic Hills School. Almost every week, we host a guest from community groups who share our mission and values, such as Sensible Solar, Cornell Cooperative, or Harlem Valley Rail Trail in order to give them a venue to chat about their efforts. When it makes sense, we collaborate with town events like a pumpkin festival or art exhibit. Last, by hiring local musicians for the weekly live music, we strive to support and encourage local talent.
Our market manager, Nicole Friedrich, had her hands full when the pandemic first hit in early 2020. She literally didn’t know if we would be permitted to open our season as planned in May, or if permitted, what it would look like. As events unfolded, and guidance came forth from the CDC and the Farmers Market Federation, she waded through the guidelines. When Opening Day came, our market indeed looked quite different — the spacing for social distancing, the mask requirements, no dogs allowed, small groups of shoppers encouraged, no lingering, no eating of food on-site, no live music. Ensuring safety while reassuring customers was our priority.