Farmers’ Markets Build Community and Grow Local Economies

by Sue Taggart

You may think of Farmers’ Markets as places to get fresh local, organic and sustainable foods and you would be right, but they are so much more. These markets exist all over the US; to find one near you visit the USDA Farmers’ Market list.  One of my favorite Farmers’ Markets is in the beautiful Hudson Valley, on Route 30, located at the historic Round Barn at Halcottsville. Celebrating its 20th year, the Pakatakan Farmers’ Market is open from mid-May through mid-October and then again around Thanksgiving for special holiday items, foods and décor. The anticipation of being there on the opening day of the new season is like looking forward to seeing good friends again.

Over the ten years that I have been visiting at weekends, favorite vendors may have come and gone, but new ones arrive and each time there is something new to discover, someone new to learn from and a growing sense of community as everyone—vendors and visitors alike—want the area and the local farms, artisans and businesses to thrive. People don’t just come here to shop, they come to socialize—residents, weekenders and even the occasional celebrity rub shoulders and exchange local news and gossip over the organic tomatoes and bedding plants!

My weekend menu takes its lead from what I find at the market on a Saturday morning—from organic produce and pasture-raised meats to fresh breads, cheeses and smoked fish—all local, all straight from farm to table. Many of the farmers and artisans have websites and you can order some amazing products online. Here are just a few of my favorite things:

Bread Alone
Specializing in certified organic breads and traditional handcrafted pastries, they also operate several retail shops in the Hudson Valley and Catskill region. Try their lemon, poppy seed pound cake—Yummm!

Brovetto Dairy & Cheese House
Some really great cheeses all made from their own dairy cows, featuring a variety of pasteurized or raw milk hormone-free cheeses such as natural, hops, basil & tomato, caraway, dill, jalapeno and seasonal specialties.

Catskill Mountain Artisans’ Guild
This not-for-profit organization helps promote local and regional artists. The cooperative gallery is a permanent feature on Main Street, Margaretville, where there is always a wide variety of handcrafted items from fine art and furniture, to pottery and jewelry.

Grey Mouse Farm
A working family farm whose members grow, pack and market some of the best preserves, pickles, mustards and sauces I have ever tasted.

Lucky Dog Farm
Wonderful organic seasonal produce and cut flowers. Dedicated to farmland preservation, the Lucky Dog Farm Store in Hamden, NY, is a delight.

Patria Gardens
Neil Driscol has been at the Pakatakan Farmers’ Market since it opened in 1991. He is such a well known figure there that everyone refers to his stand as “Neil’s Gardens”. I have never seen his own renowned gardens, but his perennial plants and shrubs are the best around.

Mary Zydel Jewelry
Beautiful organic designs in sterling silver with semi-precious stones, Mary’s lovely pieces can be found in many stores all over the Catskills, including the Catskill Mountain Artisans’ Guild store.

Sap Bush Hollow Farm
A three-generation family enterprise with an on-farm butcher shop. Sap Bush Hollow Farm has long been recognized as a national leader for sustainable agriculture producing grassfed lamb, beef, veal, pasturized pork, chickens and turkeys, as well as eggs, specialty sausages and honey.

Shaver-Hill Farm
A family farm partnership that has been producing everything “maple” since 1891. From syrup and sugar to cream, jelly and candies and everything in between!

Stone & Thistle Farm
Livestock and poultry are raised on organic meadows without pesticides and artificial fertilizers. Specializing in grass-fed lamb, goat, chicken, turkey, pork and beef, this family farm also runs farm tours and The Fable Dining experience on Saturdays from Memorial Day through Thanksgiving weekend.

Some others to check out:

Beaverkill Trout Hatchery Smoked and fresh trout
Biodynamics (more to come on this in another article)
Brodie’s Sugarbush Maple syrup and pancake mixes
Blue Sky Farm Homemade blueberry wine
Bodacious Cookie Company Home baked goods
Byebrook Farm Hand-crafted Gouda cheeses
Goat Sheep Shop Meats and fiber Arts
Heller Farms Vegetables, fruits and Christmas Trees
Holiday Farm Biscuit Company Home baked desserts, cakes and cookies
Locust Grove Soap Co. Pure vegetable glycerin and goat’s milk soaps
Sherman Hill Farmsted Goat milk cheeses
Slickepott Fudge Sauce Natural fudge sauces
Sue Mullen Herbs and Plants
The Little Bake Shop That Could Home baked goods
Tea Thyme Herbs Herbs, spices, soup mixes, mustards and jellies

Whatever you are looking for, The Pakatakan Farmers’ Market has something for everyone, including some great brunch favorites, mouthwatering Belgian Waffles from the Waffle People made hot and fresh while you wait, slow-cooked southern BBQ featuring pulled pork, hamburgers and hot dogs from Kiss My Butts BBQ and not-to-be-missed ice cream from the Lazy Crazy Acres truck.

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