By Jeanne Sager
JEFFERSONVILLE May 18, 2004 If theres one thing that sums up country living at its greatest, its got to be a farmers market.
With blueberries and strawberries and the freshest white breads, you could say its a slice of Americana.
With stargazers and pansies and bright yellow sunflowers, you could say its the biggest open-air florist around.
And its just getting bigger.
This month the Sullivan County Area Farmers Market will unveil its newest location a Thursday market in the parking lot across from Eddies Famous Foods in Jeffersonville (set to open on May 27 at 2 p.m.).
According to Market President Jill Wiener, it was time.
This year we felt we were settled in enough in other places that we could afford another market, she explained.
So they went to the Jeff community, and the responses were overwhelming.
Yes, they said. Come to Jeff.
They decided Thursdays would be the best day in Jeffersonville theres already a Friday market up the street in Liberty, a Saturday market in Wurtsboro and Sunday markets in Callicoon and Roscoe.
Thursday is a day when vendors would be available, and a day when the weekend traffic hasnt yet taken over the small village.
They approached Jim and Joe Pilny, the brothers who own both Eddies and the parking lot.
They were 100 percent behind it, Wiener said. They are very community-minded, very generous.
They see that its not a competition with their business, she continued. They realize people will come to the market for lettuce or strawberries or pottery and run across the street for aluminum foil and charcoal briquets.
You have to commend them for their foresight, she added. This will bring people to town and benefit everyone.
So why Jeff?
There are already markets in surrounding areas, but Jeffersonville residents dont always trek to Liberty or Callicoon.
This gives them an option, and it brings people into Jeffersonville, a village that has undergone tremendous changes in the last five years.
Our mission statement says that we want to help the communities where we are located, Wiener said.
So why not Jeff?
Many of the vendors, including Wiener, who owns Earth Girl Pottery in Callicoon Center, hail from the Jeffersonville area and theyre excited about opening up to some hometown folks.
Its literally right in our backyards, Wiener noted. We couldnt be happier to be a part of the community.
And the community is happy to have them. The Three Chocolateers owner Kris Schluer, who shares a parking lot with the farmers market site, is already making special plans for Thursdays.
She hopes to catch the eye of a farmers market shopper and lure them into her store.
The market has also gotten the support of the Jeffersonville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Sullivan County Visitors Association, the First National Bank of Jeffersonville, the Sullivan County Legislature and the Village of Jeffersonville itself all of which have helped tremendously in getting the new project off the ground, Wiener noted.
We are really excited about Jeff, she said. We are looking forward to a long-standing relationship with the village.
And she hopes people will be attracted to town to buy jams and jellies, honey and eggs, perennials and herbs, organic vegetables and goat cheeses, pottery and soaps and other handmade goods.
Shopping at a farmers market is very different from heading to the mall, Wiener explained.
Craftsmen and artisans are required to make 100 percent of the items they sell at the Sullivan County Area Farmers Market. The farmers have to grow 90 percent of what they are selling the other 10 percent can be brokered as long as its not in competition with any other vendor at the market.
For example, she said, if someone is selling grapes from the Finger Lakes because they are not yet in season in Sullivan County, thats fine. But the minute a local vendor brings out their own grapes, the brokered fruits are gone.
That means customers will find things that could truly come out of their neighborhood.
You can meet the farmer, you can ask questions about their growing methods, their practices, Wiener noted. You really get to know the people and its very direct.
They pick early that morning, hop in the truck and take it to market, she explained. Youre supporting your local farmer these are farmers living without huge government subsidies.
These are small farms, Wiener continued. And youre also supporting your local craftsperson and artisan.
Without going into a store, without going into a mall, without going to Middletown or Vestal, youre getting one-of-a-kind pieces influenced by the rural surroundings in which we live, she said. If you buy a piece of my pottery, you know I made it.
The same goes for the produce you can stand face to face with the man or woman who plucked it from the garden.
Youre not going to find mangoes at our market, Wiener said. Dont ask for starfruit or bananas they are never in season in Sullivan County.
But ask questions, she said, sample something new.
And enjoy the market.
These people have an investment they truly care about the product theyre selling, Wiener said, much more so than some clerk at the mall.
So on Thursday, May 27, head to the parking lot on Main Street right across from Eddies Famous Foods anytime between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., she said.
Youll meet Wiener and dozens of other people who are from right here.
And youll get something you cant get anywhere else.