East fresh from the Caledonia Farm Market

   Fresh produce farm markets are springing up all over the state and beginning in July, Caledonia will be numbered among them. The farm market committee is seeking input and interest and has scheduled a meeting for June 30, 2009 at 7 p.m. in the town hall.

   Earlier this year, the Town of Caledonia board discussed creating a farm market for summer 2009. Local resident Richard Thomas was also interested in the idea and worked together with Councilperson Pam Rychlicki to research all of the regulations involved with creating a farm market and developing a plan to get it started in July.

   Thomas and Rychlicki presented the draft farmersí market plan to the town board at the June 11, 2009 meeting. The mission is simple, "To create a friendly market atmosphere dedicated to a sharing of locally grown food, food products and plants during a time when we all need stronger connections to better nutrition, greener lifestyles and a simpler existence," Thomas told the board.

   Additionally, itís believed that the farmers market will provide a connection between the community and local agriculture and also serve as a revitalization effort that encourages patronage at other local merchants and points of interest in the area. The goal is to start out slow and grow the market over the next few summers, Thomas said.

   The farm market will be located on the Caledonia Library lawn two Sundays per month in July, August and September. Initially, vendors from the Caledonia and Wheatland area will be considered. As the market grows, vendors from outside the community will be considered. A minimal fee per day or a flat fee for the entire season will be collected from vendors who wish to have a booth at the market. All space fees collected will be donated to the Caledonia Library Association.

   The Caledonia farmersí market would like to offer a variety of locally grown and harvested products such as fruits, vegetables, cider, fruit juices, eggs, maple syrup, cheeses, meat and poultry, plants, cut flowers and nursery products, baked goods and wine. Local availability will determine the types of products offered at the farm market.

   What Thomas and Rychlicki found out in their research of farm markets is that they are highly regulated by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Licensures are necessary depending on the type of product sold at the farm market. Vendors must have their own liability insurance and comply with local health department regulations, as well.

   With more than 300 farmersí markets located throughout New York State, the Farmersí Market Federation of New York exists to provide organizers with the guidelines for a successful market. The organization provided a great deal of guidance to Thomas and Rychlicki in developing the outline for the Caledonia Farm Market.

   Caledonia Supervisor Daniel Pangrazio liked the idea of a farmersí market for Caledonia for a number of reasons, initially as a regular community event that would involve local growers, friends and neighbors. He chose the Caledonia Library Main Street location for the market as a way of providing financial support to the library, one of Caledoniaís most important community resources. The more the board discussed the market idea; it quickly became apparent that it would offer much more than just fresh food to the community.

   The farmersí market offers residents a clear economic advantage over buying produce in the supermarket, according to published articles. And that economic advantage extends to owners of other local businesses because research shows that when buyers visit a town to purchase fresh food at a local farm market, they typically spend some additional money at other local businesses in the area. Farmersí markets are also a boost for local small and mid-size family farms.

   Economics are not the only reason that a community benefits from a farm market. The health benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables are well documented. These healthy foods offered at reasonable prices make is easier for families to afford to offer more variety of nutritional foods to their families.

   As if money savings and health benefits were not enough, there is evidence that farmersí markets contribute to community development. Many communities that have farm markets have added themed events such as live cooking demonstrations using products from the market; lessons in quilting, canning and other domestic arts; education from local experts in topics such as gardening, bee keeping, soap production, etc. and public service messages from local law enforcement, fire ambulance organizations.

   The market committee will present the draft plans for the upcoming Caledonia Farmersí Market to interested vendors at the June 30 meeting. Applications for booth space will also be accepted. You may email questions or request more information at: caledoniafarmersmkt@gmail.com

   Information is also available at the Caledonia town office, 3109 Main Street, Caledonia.