November 30, 2021

Growers ready to go

Farmers markets in area reopening for summer season

Valerie Puma/staff reporter

Matt Hollenbeck, owner of Hollenbeck’s Cider Mill in Virgil, moves freshly baked pretzels from a tray to a cooling rack. Hollenbeck’s Cider Mill will host the Virgil Farmers Market when it reopens mid-June.

After weeks of rain and rapid changes in temperature, farmers markets got started later than usual this year, but the market season has begun, and you’ll again be able to buy local produce and other foods.

The Cortland City Farmers Market was scheduled to re-open for the season this morning, and will be open every Tuesday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. until October.

“Everything is behind schedule because, well at first we had all the rain, and then we had all the heat and dryness. So we just got all the plants into the ground, and they’ve been in for maybe a couple of weeks,” said Joan Franklin, the market’s organizer.

For the first few weeks, the farmers market will mostly feature maple syrup and crafts, and maybe lettuce and some other leafy greens, Franklin said, but most of the vegetables probably won’t start growing until the end of June.

Along with Cortland City Farmers Market, the Freeville Farmers Market has reopened.

The markets

Cortland: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Freeville: Noon to 2 p.m. Sundays.
Virgil: 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays, starting later in June.

The Freeville market is open noon to 2 p.m. Sundays and several vendors are offering pre-orders for pickup, for any customers who want to social distance.

“Many of the vendors are still choosing to wear masks. We hope that our customers follow the guidelines for the health of everyone,” said Madi Alridge, one of the market’s organizers, and co-owner of Jasper Meadows Farm. “We are an open-air market and set up outside.”

The market season is beginning only a few weeks after New York state’s COVID-19 regulations changed and the mask mandate was lifted.

The coronavirus pandemic halted many businesses this past year, however, produce stands and market vendors stayed open.

“The shutdown didn’t really hurt us,” Franklin said. “Last year, we were open (and) wearing masks, of course.”

Vendors kept their produce visible, so customers wouldn’t need to handle fruits or vegetables they didn’t intend to buy, Franklin said.

“People were excellent, our customers were excellent,” Franklin said. The Virgil Farmers Market will open later this month, hosted by Hollenbeck’s Cider Mill.

“I’m a big, big fan and proponent of local produce and small farmers,” said Matt Hollenbeck, owner of Hollenbeck’s Cider Mill.

“I’m always thrilled about that. And it’s awesome to have a farmers market where I already work, so the farmers market just comes to me.”

The market will take place in the parking lot where Hollenbeck’s Cider Mill is open for drive-through orders of baked goods. Hollenbeck said he invited the market to relocate to the parking lot several years ago when he realized the previous location was less convenient.

“We were hoping our existing business could help bring more people to them, and it’s just an awesome community resource,” he said. “A lot of our vendors and farmers joining us are women, and that’s an awesome thing.”