The Real Food Renaissance: A Guide to Long Island’s Farmers Markets

A Guide to Long Island’s Farmers Markets.
Ethyl Terry- 1_opt
Greenport, Mattituck, Riverhead, Cutchogue. Unarguably beautiful and among the most pristine towns on the island, they dominate the local agrotourism industry. However, neighborhoods across Long Island that are now the symbols of suburbia, where it may often seem difficult to draw a connection between man and food, were all farms as well at one point in history. In our not-too-distant past, all of Long Island was familiar with the bronzed faces of farmers and the rumble of their tractors.

Levittown, for example, the symbol of post–World War II prosperity that paved the way for every other blacktop-filled American suburb, was made available for developer William Levitt in 1947 only after an agricultural animosity. Enter golden nematode, a small parasitic worm that dwells in soil and blighted the potatoes. When the soil collapsed, farmers loaded up their tractors and retreated east, driving land prices in Nassau and Western Suffolk down and attracting land developers to start digging. Nassau traded in its tractor treads for tractor-trailers, pushing the farmers further east as suburbs sprouted like weeds in a strawberry field.

The separation between commercial and residential zones that comes with suburban development can make it difficult to identify a central location where community gathering and local economic exchange can take place. Though Nassau and Western Suffolk’s rich agricultural heritage appears masked by today’s surplus of high schools, strip malls, and in-ground pools, most of its residents never lost their appreciation for quality food. Ethnic legacies rich in gastronomy paved the way for what is now a farmers market renaissance. CSAs (community-supported agriculture) and farmers markets are popping up like eyes on an old potato, as Long Island is now home to over 40 farmers markets (listed below) from Montauk to Roslyn.

markets1

Bringing back the farmers didn’t come without its challenges. Kings Park residents Aly Elish-Swartz and Ann Marie Nadell know firsthand how difficult it can be to supersede the bureaucracy, planning and funding issues that may arise when starting a farmers market. Even with residents eager to start supporting local producers, it took one year of planning, public surveys, collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Civic Association and experts to get the Kings Park Farmers Market going. “We put the cart before the horse. We had this virtual market going before we even had the municipal lot,” Elish-Swartz recalls. They wanted to create a gathering place their town could be proud of that wasn’t associated with religion, sports or school. With the town finally on board, running the markets proved to be the most difficult part.

That’s when they called in expert Bernadette Martin of Long Beach, an active Greenmarket farm inspector, school garden program coordinator, farmer, horticulturist and market manager. Bernadette began replenishing food deserts across Long Island with her first market in Long Beach in 2008. Sick of having to go all the way to the city for fresh produce, she decided to confront the limited amount of fresh and local food resources left unfulfilled by large grocery chains. “It’s a disparity. It’s terrible how they treat commodity food in a conventional market,” Martin states, referring to lack of access to local resources in America’s agribusiness market. Her desire to share the beneficial resources available right here on Long Island with fellow community members is what drove her to creating markets.

markets2

Six years later, the Long Beach Farmers Market is a symbol of summer in the hoppin’ beach town. Every Wednesday and Saturday, visitors and residents of Long Beach can indulge in Long Island treats such as: locally roasted coffee from Gentle Brew, fresh clams from Paul the Fisherman of Island Park and even blue claw crabs and dry scallops from the local channels of Oceanside caught by fishermen Casey and Danny Ward. Every Sunday on the opposite side of the island, the Kings Park market is just as successful, as Suffolk County residents graze on Kalypso Greek Yogurt and Thera Farms organic lettuce and even buy fresh herbs and plants from Garden Fusion of East Marion. “All of us were such a good team,” Elish-Swartz stated, reflecting back on the collaboration that it took to make the market such a success.

Despite the growth in vendors, Martin hasn’t lost sight of her main goal to give back to the community. The Kings Park Farmers Market awards high school scholarships each year, while Long Beach invites local students to work at the market and attend tours. Both markets donate to local food pantries and soup kitchens. With their donations, the Long Beach soup kitchen feeds the mouths of 75 homeless community members. As Elish-Swartz put it, “This is a win-win for everybody involved—the producers are getting something, the town is getting something, the food pantry is getting something…everyone!”

markets3

Not only is there better access to local foods for residents, but farmers are also reaping the benefits. Ethel Terry of Terry’s Farm in Orient Point will tell you firsthand how 21 years of market experience can transform a farm’s financial well-being. As a farmer, Terry understands the challenges Long Island farmers had with their limited influence in the economic market. Determined to increase the presence of Long Island farmers like herself, in today’s competitive agricultural market, she began creating markets. Today she is up to 12 markets with 70 vendors such as Mr. Hoi’s Beef Jerky, Golden Earthworm Organic Farm, Bee Pharm Apitherapy Products and Coach Farms cheeses. Terry’s first market in Islip is running just as strong, with unique items such as wine, hummus and even olive oil. Her unique perspective and motivation has helped farmers regain a competitive edge in the local retail industry. As Terry says, “It’s a pleasure to live off the land,” so why not share that with those who share that same land?

We welcome all farmers and producers with open arms to come back to what was once home and replenish us with your homegrown bounty. Vendors and residents alike will find new friendships, a stroll outdoors and a unique cultural niche. “That’s what keeps me going—the community of producers and friends I’ve made through the markets…and of course I love the food.” Bernadette Martin knows it. You can, too.

AMITYVILLE—Sat 9am–1pm, Jul 6–Oct 26; 9/11 Memorial Park on Rte 110; ligreenmarket.org

BABYLON VILLAGE—Sun 8am–1pm, Jun 2–Nov 24; LIRR parking lot, Railroad Ave and N Carroll Ave; winterfarmersmarketlongisland.com

BELLPORT—Sat 11am–4pm, Jul 6–Oct 26; 471 Atlantic Ave, Boys & Girls Club of the Bellport Area; 631.924.8088, ext. 1503

BRIDGEHAMPTON—Fri 3–6:30pm, May 24–Aug 30; 151 Mitchell Ln at Hayground School; 631.987.3553

DEER PARK—Sat & Sun 11am–3pm, Jun 1–Nov 17; Tanger Outlets at the Arches, Commack Rd, Ste 525, adjacent to Starbucks; 631.667.0600

EAST HAMPTON—Fri 9am–1pm, May 24–Aug 30; Nick & Toni’s parking lot, 136 N Main St; 631.725.9133

SPRINGS—Sat 9am–1pm, May 25–early fall; Springs Fireplace Rd at Ashawagh Hall; 631.875.9130

ELMONT—Sat 11am–5pm, May 11–July 27; Sat & Sun, Sept–Oct; Belmont Park, 2150 Hempstead Tpk; ligreenmarket.org

FLANDERS—Sat 10am–2pm, Jun 29–Oct 12; Crohan Community Center, 655 Flanders Rd; 631.287.5745

GARDEN CITY—Tues 7am–1pm, Jun 4–Nov 26; 101 County Seat Dr, behind Supreme Court building, off Old Country Rd; longislandgrowersmarket.com

GREAT NECK—Sun 10am–2pm, May 26–Dec 1; Village Green, between Beach Rd and Arrandale Ave on Middle Neck Rd; 212.644.2604, greatneckfarmersmarket.com

GREENPORT—Sat 9am–1pm, May 25–Oct 12; corner of First and Adams Sts; 631.494.8512

HAUPPAUGE—Thurs 8am–1pm, Jun 6–Aug 29; 102 Motor Pkwy, Teachers Federal Credit Union Lot; longislandgrowersmarket.com

HUNTINGTON—Sun 7am–noon, Jun 2–Nov 30; Main St east of Rte 110; longislandgrowersmarket.com

HUNTINGTON—Sun 10am–2pm during the winter; Jack Abrams School, 155 Lowndes Ave

ISLIP—Sat 7am–noon, Jun 1–Nov 23; Town Hall parking lot on Montauk Hwy; longislandgrowersmarket.com

KINGS PARK—Sun 9am–2pm, May 5–Nov 17; municipal parking lot on 25A across from fire department; ligreenmarket.org

LOCUST VALLEY—Sat 8am–1pm, Jun 1–Nov 16; 115 Forest Ave, across from post office; longislandgrowersmarket.com

LONG BEACH—Weds 10am–4pm, Sat 9am–2pm, May 1–Nov 20; Kennedy Plaza next to LIRR station; ligreenmarket.org

MONTAUK—Thurs 9am–2pm, Jun 13–Oct 17; Village Green; 631.668.2428, montaukchamber.com

NEW HYDE PARK—Sat 8am–1pm, Jun 1–Nov 23; Jericho Tpk and New Hyde Park Rd; winterfarmersmarketlongisland.com

NORTHPORT—Sat 8am–1pm, Jun 8–Nov 23; Cow Harbor Park parking lot, foot of Main St; 631.754.3905,
northportfarmersmarket.org

OLD BETHPAGE—Sun 10am–noon and Weds 4–6pm, Jun 2–Oct 30; Old Bethpage Village Restoration parking lot, 1303 Round Swamp Rd; 516.572.8400

OYSTER BAY—Sat 9am–1pm, until Nov 16; 54 Audrey Ave

PATCHOGUE—Fri 8am–1pm, July 5–Nov 15; 225 E Main St, 7-Eleven parking lot, west of Rte 112; longislandgrowersmarket.com

PORT JEFFERSON—Thurs 10am–4:30pm, July 4–Oct 17; Steam Room Restaurant parking lot, 4 E Bway, corner of Rtes 25A and 112; longislandgrowersmarket.com

PORT WASHINGTON—Sat 8am–noon, Jun 8–Oct 28; Town Dock, Main St; 516.883.0887, grassrootsinfo.org

RIVERHEAD—Thurs 11am–4pm, July 11–Oct 24; parking lot behind E Main St; longislandgrowersmarket.com

ROCKVILLE CENTRE—Sun 7am–noon, Jun 2–Nov 24; Sunrise Hwy and Long Beach Rd; longislandgrowersmarket.com

ROOSEVELT—Sun 11am–4pm or until sold out, Jul 7–Nov 3; 516.351.7866

ROSLYN-NORTH HILLS—Weds 7am–1pm, Jun 5–Nov 27; Christopher Morley Park, Searingtown Rd; longislandgrowersmarket.com

SAG HARBOR—Sat 9am–1pm, May 19–Oct 26; Bay and Burke Sts; 212.644.2604, sagharborfarmersmarket.org

SAYVILLE—Sat 8am–2:30pm, May 18–Nov 16; Islip Grange at Bway and Montauk Hwy; 631.365.6320

SEAFORD—Sat 7am–noon, Jun 1–Nov 23; Railroad St, east end of parking lot of Seaford RR station, corner of Washington Ave and Sunrise Hwy; longislandgrowersmarket.com

SHELTER ISLAND—Sat 9am–12:30pm, Jun 15–Sept. 21; 16 S Ferry Rd; sihs.farmersmarket@gmail.com

SOUTHAMPTON—Sun 9am–2pm, May 26–Oct 13; 25 Jobs Ln, westside grounds of the Southampton Center; 631.283.0402

STONY BROOK—Weds–Fri 10am–5:30pm, Jun 1–Oct 31; Ward Melville Heritage Org, Main St

VALLEY STREAM—Thurs 9am–4pm, May 16–Oct 31; Franklin Hospital, 900 Franklin Ave

WANTAGH—Fri 8am–1pm, Jun 16–Nov 15; 1960 Jones Ave, Saint Markella Greek Orthodox Church; winterfarmersmarketlongisland.com

WESTHAMPTON BEACH—Sat 9am–1pm, May 11–Nov 16; 85 Mill Rd; 631.288.3337, westhamptonchamber.com

UPDATE: This list was updated on August 21 to reflect that the Massapequa, Hewlett, Glen Cove and Holtsville markets have closed. They are listed in the print edition. Also, the Hunting market at the Jack Abrams school is only a winter market.

Newsletter