Long Island farmers market managers are anticipating another busy season as the pandemic fueled a growing interest in home cooking and opportunities for outdoor activities that hasn’t waned.
Some operators, who are celebrating National Farmers Market Week that began Aug. 1 and ends Saturday, said their business grew last season.
"Last year was, I would say, much more busier due to COVID because we were deemed essential," said Ethel Terry, of Long Island Growers Markets, operator of seven markets from Roslyn to Patchogue. "We had much larger crowds."
Compared to previous years, Terry estimated that her business volume increased 40% in 2020.
"The markets were very good last year because people were cooped up and the only place they could go and feel comfortable was at a farmers market," she said. "They could be outside 6 feet away, waving to a friend or neighbor."
New to the weeklong festivities
Amy Peters, market manager of Deep Roots in Glen Cove, said her market offered curbside pickup for customers when its season began in June 2020.
"By August, nobody was using it, and everybody was shopping in person," she said. "… I think people appreciate the whole local food system a lot more now because, at the beginning of the pandemic, they’d go to the grocery stores and the shelves would be empty."
This year marks the first time Peters will participate in National Farmers Market Week, which is organized by the Farmers Market Coalition, a national nonprofit based in Albany, California. She said her market will provide programs for children and a denim drive-through Blue Jeans Go Green, a recycling program to keep textile waste out of landfills.
A SNAP decision
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced last week that the county’s Economic Development Corporation approved a $25,000 grant for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to spend at participating farmers markets and other stores.
The grant was awarded to Field & Fork Network, a nonprofit that administers the Double Up Food Bucks program to help New Yorkers buy locally grown fruits and vegetables.
"With more than 350,000 Long Islanders not knowing where their next meal will come from, this program will not only give low-income residents the chance to make healthier food choices, it will also allow local farmers to gain new customers and make more money," Bellone said in a news release.
Also visit https://agriculture.ny.gov/farmers-markets-county?county=Albany for a list of farmers markets on the Island that accept SNAP benefits.