Warwick Valley Farmers Market - News
Here we are at the end of summer at the Warwick Valley Farmers’ Market. I’ve been approached several times by consumers asking why this vendor or that is in our Market. “After all, that isn’t a farm,” is what I’ve heard. We do have some non-farm vendors at the Market – vendors who produce very specialized prepared foods, soaps, and pickles. And a fishmonger. So, the question didn’t surprise me. What surprised me was that some consumers ask that about on-farm kitchens. My response was, and continues to be, “Yes, they are indeed farms. Farms are much more than fields where certain crops are raised.”
Let’s start at the basics.
The Warwick Valley Farmers’ Market is a New York State authorized Farm Market Nutrition Program market as defined by the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets. As such, we are a producer-only market. That means that the people in front of you – farms, orchards, kitchens, soap makers, fisherman – are responsible for raising (or fishing for) the products you see. Ag & Markets expects that each vendor grows or is responsible for preparing what is on the table in front of you. The Market expects that each vendor grows or is personally preparing a minimum of 75% of what you can buy from him.
Further a farm is defined in New York State as a commercial agricultural business that nets after all costs and taxes a minimum of $10,000 per year.
In order to keep our farms viable economically, New York State encourages “value-added products” such as jams, jellies, pies, salads, soups, pickles, pastries, sauces, breads made in local farm kitchens licensed by Ag & Markets. Making products that consumers want and selling them direct is far better for us all than food waste. Not to mention that we have all become more time stressed and appreciate the convenience of having fresh-from-the farm products when we get home late from work. We are all accustomed to picking up a pizza or a meal, we can pick up salads, soups, finished meals from our farm kitchens – fresh from the farm to your table.
Wine, beer, hard cider and distilled products made from locally grown grapes, hops, apples, and grains have become a lucrative part of farms and orchards throughout the State helping support other aspects of agriculture.
Agriculture by definition includes horse farms, timber operations, livestock (including bees), fibre (sheeps wool, goat wool, alpaca wool – just like cotton and flax), sod farms, and horticulture (bushes, bedding plants, landscaping plants) amongst other items that cannot be eaten. Bytheway, did you know that 300 years ago, we had iron farms? Iron extraction was a big part of what was done locally in New York and New Jersey. Some of those iron farms were right here in Warwick, Greenwood Lake and Tuxedo/Sterling Forest. Today some of those products include lignen pellets for heat (from old hay), wool, fertilizer, lawns, houseplants and more.
New York State Agriculture and Markets law also includes any product grown in New York State as “local.” It’s a big state – so that gets confusing. And, in the twists of supporting food hubs through the Agricultural Investment Program, any product obtained from the tax supported Hunts Point produce markets is considered “local,” even lemons, oranges, avocados, and other tropical fruits purchased there. Not exactly what most of us expect, is it?
In reviewing our annual application as an FMNP market, Ag & Markets specifically authorizes fishermen (both fresh water and ocean) as part of farmers’ markets in order to bring the benefits of fresh fish and seafood to local customers.
Please look around the Warwick Valley Farmers’ Market. You will find the following 13 categories among our 30 vendors. Yes, there is oftentimes crossover amongst our vendors
as they discover new value-added products to bring to our market.
8 fruit and vegetable producers (many orchards offer some vegetables; many vegetable farmers offer specific berries and fruits that grow well on their farms). One organic, two non-intervention; 5 conventional
7 types of protein vendors
2 egg vendors
1 chicken and poultry vendor
1 grass fed and finished beef vendor
2 pork vendors
1 goat meat and goat milk vendor
2 cheese vendors
1 ostrich and bison vendor
2 wine/hard cider/distilled products vendors
3 soap makers
1 bread baker
2 jam and jelly makers
3 pickle makers
6 prepared food kitchens (non pastry). Of these, only 4 are non-farm kitchens.
1 maple producer
2 honey producers
So, what exactly is the Warwick Valley Farmers’ Market? One of the very few farm producer oriented markets where you can find 12 categories of food ready to take home to prepare or to serve for your family. Even our non-farm kitchens have a demonstrated loyalty to patronizing local farms (not all necessarily other vendors at our Market) to incorporate the freshest foods and ingredients possible into the finished foods they offer you each Sunday.