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Pelham Farmers Market Seeks Your Support

PELHAM, N.Y. - On the recent chilly morning of “Snowtober,” the vendors of the Pelham farmers market set up through the storm at the corner of Harmon and Fifth Avenues. In the most literal sense of the word, these vendors built an “open” market. Their stands had no walls or heat, and just like the produce and other goods they were selling, they created the market in tandem with nature.

“We think of it like the post office – neither rain nor snow will drive us away,” explained Maryann Migliorelli-Rosolen of Migliorelli Farms in Tivoli, NY, “I called every member of our team who was out there that day, and they were freezing, but our customers really appreciated that we were there. ”

The sales they completed that day, just like everyday at the farmers market, were also open. In this sense, the transactions were transparent and direct. When shoppers buy at the farmers market, they are the second step in a simple two-step process.  It’s from the farmer or producer to the buyer. According to a report issued earlier this year by the economic arm of the USDA, farmers earn less than $0.20 cents on every food dollar spent in this country. The other $0.80 cents go to food processing, transportation, and advertising and marketing.

When people buy at the farmers market, however, there are no middlemen or marketing budgets. Nor is there mystery as to where the money goes – the farmers (and the producers who source from them) earn more from their essential work.  With a good livelihood, these small businesses can continue to grow food responsibly on the nearby farmland.  The proprietors don’t have to develop their land for other purposes, and the community remains supported by local agriculture.

The farmers market is also “open” in the most poetic sense of the word, as in welcoming to all. A morning at the market is a morning in the shared community. Anyone can come in.  It’s a meeting place without regard to economic status, race, religion, or creed. At the Pelham market, customers can pay for their produce with WIC coupons. The shoppers are cut from an all-encompassing cloth, and they go on to shop at other neighboring businesses.  In a study conducted by the Project for Public Spaces, “60% of [farmers market] customers surveyed said they had or would visit other stores in the market area; and 60% of those customers said they only visit those stores on market day.”

“These markets are a draw,” said Migliorelli-Rosolen, “When you buy local, you support people in the area.”

At the Pelham farmers market, hosted by Community Markets every Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., the circle expands. Starting this year, local businesses and non-profits are invited to join the Community Table program. This effort encourages the diverse, active voices of Pelham to have a place at the market. The goal is to continue to bring openness – in every sense of the word – to the Pelham farmers market. The 2011 market will run through Saturday, November 19th. When the next outdoor market season begins is in the hands of the community – this market is vulnerable to closure at the end of this season. Please support the Pelham farmers market by shopping on the last two Saturdays that remain this year. If you are interested in being more involved in the market through a local farmers market committee, please send an email to: frowland@communitymarkets.biz.

Community Markets writer Nicole Reed contributed this article to The Daily Pelham.

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