As I started to write this blog it was snowing! Are you as anxious as I for some real spring/summer weather and all the opportunities and activities to choose from? A major summer treat for me are the farmers’ markets. I find them a feast for all senses. The colorful sights, smells, and tastes of summer are all on display at the numerous farmers’ markets throughout the region. Luckily, Ticonderoga is not making us wait until the depths of summer, that community is providing us a preview of the 2016 season!
As part of their National Small Business week celebration taking place May 1-7, the Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with other sponsors, will be putting an emphasis on thinking and shopping local. Join the celebration where they'll be tempting our senses and kicking off the season with what they are calling a “Preview Market.” This event will take place from 10am until 1pm on Saturday, May 7 at “Wicker Wood,” 1114 Wicker Street (also NYS Route 9N) near the entrance to the Walmart Super Center and across from Christopher Chevrolet-Buick in Ticonderoga.
June Curtis, Market Advisor, is excited for the opportunity for the early farmers’ market event. “While it is too early for produce to be offered, it is an opportunity to showcase the market site and invite the community to stop by for the many outstanding products that will be available such as fresh local meats, eggs, maple syrup, balsam products, baked goods, artwork, crafts, and more. On the eve of Mother’s Day, this early Farmers’ Market is perfectly timed to provide an endless number of options for a wonderful Mother’s Day celebration. Bright and colorful hanging plants will be plentiful. Annuals and perennials, as well as herbs, will be available just in time for spring planting at home.”
Also to be held during this Preview Market event will be a bake sale featuring scrumptious local culinary creations from the area’s top bakers. Proceeds from the bake sale will be used to present live music during the future 2016 regular Farmers’ Markets held on Saturdays from 10am until 1pm, from July 2nd through October 8th. The addition of music to these Markets adds a festive element and expands the shopping and entertainment experience.
Ticonderoga Area Farmers’ Markets will offer 15 events this upcoming season. All, but the July 30 event, will be held at this same Wicker Wood location. On July 30 the market will be located on the lower end of Montcalm Street as it becomes one of the many features of Ticonderoga Montcalm Street Partnership’s annual StreetFest; a day-long event filled with live entertainment, sidewalk sales, arts and crafts, kid’s activities, a variety of vendors, and more.
I recently stopped by the Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce office on Montcalm Street to learn more about the plans for the 2016 weekly Farmers’ Markets and get the scoop on the new and exciting Preview Market coming during National Small Business week. There I found Executive Director Matt Courtright; Market Advisor, June Curtis; TACC’s Administrative Assistant, Kaylene Ross; along with representatives from the Creating Healthy Schools and Communities (CHSC) initiative, Laura Paradise, KayLeigh Raville, and Karissa Kilmer. All were enthusiastic about offering their support for the Market. (One even offered to don the green pea costume and attend the Market, but I will let you see for yourself and figure out which.)
CHSC is a NYS Department of Health funded initiative. One of their goals and strategies is to increase access to healthy, affordable foods in communities. Supporting farmers’ markets with their fresh, locally grown, organic produce and products is a perfect fit for their program.
The Ticonderoga Farmers’ Markets are bustling events these days with expanded selections, children’s activities, and happy shoppers filling their baskets, but it has grown immensely from what I remember in past years. I talked a bit to June Curtis to learn a bit of the recent history that turned this market into the place to be on Saturday mornings.
Yes, there has been an increase in strong consumer demand for fresh, high quality foods, but the spark plug for Ticonderoga may have been more linked to AmeriCorps for the Adirondacks funding in 2014 and June Curtis coming on board as Market Manager. “My tasks were to initiate, build, and direct the Market and its activities,” she told me—and that she certainly did. The Market grew 500% that season and attendance soared. Products expanded beyond fruits and vegetables to include honey, maple syrup, alpaca products, balsam pillows, baked goods local beef, handmade baskets, and more. More goods and products expanded the market’s appeal to a wider consumer base.
Though no AmeriCorps funding came through the following year, the market continued with volunteer support. New enhancements were added like music and a Kid’s Zone. Attendance continued to climb and now residents and visitors alike see the Ticonderoga Farmers’ Market as an integral part of the community on Saturday mornings — an event no one wants to miss. This year the Market is fortunate to receive some funding from the Town of Ticonderoga and is expanding its sponsorships because it is seen as such an essential element. It’s also fortunate to have June continuing on as Market Advisor and they will be hiring a Market Manager to manage on-site duties and responsibilities while she is tasked with NYS authorizations, compliancy, and development.
Come get a pre-season peek at the Preview Market. Watch for the sign boards. While there, maybe during lunch time, wander just a few feet south on Wicker Street to check out the fresh, made to order sandwiches and subs at K&S Quality Meats. This will be another opportunity, aside from the Market, to shop for some locally raised, farm fresh, beef, pork, chicken, and turkey. Occasionally they also offer lamb. All meats are hormone and steroid free and vacuum packed to seal in freshness. I particularly like the vacuum packing. Not only is it freezer ready if you are buying to stock up, but you get to examine your selection from all angles, without that pesky Styrofoam tray, or the water-logged “diaper” liner adding extra ounces to your purchase price.
K&S also offers farm fresh eggs, locally produced and packaged herbs and spices, and in May you will find their deli selections expanding to include more freshly made summer salads.
Watch for the Ticonderoga, and other regional Farmers’ Markets, on our events calendar.
This week in ADK farm and mountain cuisine: