By Jeanne Sager
LIBERTY May 5, 2006 Jan Van Nostrand is uniquely suited to her new job.
Three weeks after her first day on the job, the new manager of the Sullivan County Area Farmers Market (SCAFM) will get her feet wet (and quite possibly muddy) with the Sunday morning opening of the Callicoon market.
Van Nostrand brings to the table the requisite agricultural background she and husband Charlie have been raising beef for sale since 1979 when they made the move full-time from New York City to Claryville.
Theyd long been weekending in the area and befriended an elderly farm couple whose property they eventually bought.
They went from raising one cow to a chicken or two and eventually a whole herd.
Theyve since moved on to a larger farm in Grahamsville proper where they raise beef and chickens and cultivate their own vegetables.
They sell hay as a cash crop, raise some pork and tap some of their trees for maple syrup a lot like many of the vendors at the market.
I know what these guys [at the market] are doing, she noted.
Ironically, thats kept Van Nostrand from making the rounds at all of the farm markets Sullivan County hosts during the spring, summer and fall.
Although shes often been to the market on Darbee Lane in Liberty, Van Nostrand had her own tomatoes at home, her own perennials in her garden and thus, little reason to travel to Callicoon or Roscoe or even Jeffersonville.
But Van Nostrands friend Maria Grimaldi, recording secretary for SCAFM, thought shed be perfect for the job.
In addition to her familiarity with both agriculture and the county, Van Nostrand has a background in communications and the publishing world.
And the focus of the farmers market is spreading the word to the world, providing a venue where farmers and local artisans can present their goods to the public.
More than a decade in, the market has grown from one location to four, with events held three days a week.
Traditionally a spring/summer venue, one market even runs into late November to provide folks with a place to do Thanksgiving meal preparations while supporting the local farmers.
Attention has risen too there are enough shoppers to support four markets, enough customers to keep vendors busy for much of the day at each market.
Talking with the vendors, local government officials and local tourism boosters, Van Nostrand has gotten nothing but good feedback about the market.
Its so exhilarating because everyone wants the markets to thrive, she noted. Theres such a wonderful emphasis on knowing what you eat and where it came from.
The advantage of the market is the face-to-face interaction with the man who grew your cucumbers (and who might just have a great recipe for soup) or the potter who handcrafted your new plates.
Because the market rules require produce all be grown within a 75-mile radius of the market, Van Nostrand said you know the plants you buy at the market can be taken home and planted in your garden.
If you follow the instructions of your friendly market plant grower, she added with a laugh.
Van Nostrand is also excited to see the county governments attentions turning to the main streets of Sullivan County.
Shed like to incorporate that theme into SCAFM, encouraging shops along the main drags of the four market towns to stay open during market hours.
The markets are good for the towns, she said.
Even in Liberty, where traffic will be a bit tricky this year because of DOT roadwork on Main Street, Van Nostrand said the idea is for people to buy at the market and then wander through town.
They can buy food for the next mornings meal and enjoy dinner in town, or purchase flowers then browse the shops for a vase to put them in.
Van Nostrand would like to see the Roscoe and Jeffersonville markets grow to the size of those in Callicoon and Liberty.
Theyre both great towns, and the customers are there, she said. I havent figured out why the vendors arent!
But vendors are encouraged to apply and applications will be accepted throughout the summer.
Van Nostrand said as she gets into the swing of things, shell begin reaching out for fundraising ideas and entertainment for market day.
The Liberty market will open Friday, May 12, with Paul Lounsbury and Bill Engle performing, and other performers are encouraged to give her a call at 292-6180 if theyd like to volunteer to play.
The market runs each Friday from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Darbee Lane across from the Elks Lodge.
The Roscoe market will open Sunday, May 21, on Stewart Avenue, running from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Jeffersonville market will open Thursday, May 25, in the parking lot of the Three Chocolateers on Main Street, running from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The Callicoon market will open this Sunday, running from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Callicoon Creek Park on Audley Dorrer Drive.