OSSINING, N.Y. – Ossining and Briarcliff Manor residents won’t have to wait until March to get fresh fruits and vegetables in their own town as the outdoor Ossining Winter Farmers’ Market opens for the first time Saturday.
The market will continue on the corner of Spring and Main streets from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through the winter; the first time it's had winter hours since the market became the first in Westchester more than 20 years ago. Since its inception in Ossining, Down To Earth Markets has helped open 15 other farmers' markets in the Westchester area and the success of winter markets in Mamaroneck and New Rochelle helped pave the way for Ossining, said Frankie Rowland, marketing director at Down To Earth Markets.
“Farmers work year round and we all eat year round so we can all put on our parkas and come to the market to get fresh food year round,” Rowland said. “The Village of Ossining board and the Greater Ossining Chamber of Commerce were tremendously helpful in getting this started and we’re very excited to be bringing the first winter farmers’ market to Ossining.”
From 2008-11, the Briarcliff indoor farmers’ market, operated by Down To Earth Markets, was housed in the Briarcliff Congregational Church at the corner of South State and Elm roads. Last year, the church had some issues with parking during snowy days, and Briarcliff village officials later said the church did not have the proper permits to house a for-profit commercial business, according to previous reports.
Rowland said it was important to keep a winter market in the Ossining area all year.
“We’re particularly excited because of the big bicentennial anniversary in Ossining this year,” Rowland said. “To be able to have this year round was something we know a lot of people in the community wanted and we’re very excited to be able to get the opportunity to do it.”
Those concerned about fresh food won’t need to worry, said farmer Brian Gajeski of Long Island-based Gajeski Produce.
“We have ten greenhouses on our farm - some heated and some not - where we grow all sorts of greens from baby lettuce to Swiss Chard,” Gajeski said in a press release. “Also, we’ve already got our root crops in storage, so we’ll have everything from carrots to turnips to rutabagas and more.”
Rowland said the outdoor market will have tents, heaters and other amenities to keep shoppers warm while they peruse the selection from more than 20 vendors. Rowland added that the group’s policy dictates food be picked no more than 48 hours before the market opens and vendors are able to make the trip to and from the market in one day.
“It’s very important for the local community to really have fresh food all year and it’s very important to us that it come from local people,” Rowland said. “It’s also a really great benefit for local farmers to have cash flow throughout the year rather than just the summer.”