September 20, 2010


Farmers market nears its 40th year

Main street market celebrates its 38th season in the city

MarketJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Jill Pace of Cortland carries home a pumpkin Saturday morning from the farmers market after exercising at the Cortland Fitness Center.

Staff Reporter

Joan Franklin marked the 38th anniversary of the Cortland Main Street Farmers Market by bringing twice as many bushels of vegetables and containers of fruit as usual Saturday to her sidewalk spot in front of Logo This.
Her Valley View Farms stand showed an array of corn, peppers, squash, broccoli and cauliflower from her Scott farm, where she plants about 30 acres of vegetables next to her husband’s 1,000 acres of crops. Her long tables also carried apples, grapes, pears and Italian plums, purchased from a farm in Sodus because “the young people like the fruit.”
For almost four decades, the farmers market has been allowing vendors to sell everything from vegetables to baked goods, eggs, honey, wine, household decorations and paintings.
On Tuesdays and Saturdays from early June until the last Saturday in October, the vendors sell from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. to both longtime customers and visitors for the day.
Franklin — the market’s manager — said some customers come every week while others might be in the city for a college event or just out driving on a summer or fall day. Saturday was sunny and cool, so she expected a lot of people.
Cortland resident Jill Pace stopped to buy eggplant, which she said is a weekly custom. Cortland resident Nick Carbona, who grows vegetables in his backyard and used to sell them on Owego Street and then Pomeroy Street, looked through her apple selection and then purchased some.
Franklin has been selling at the market since 1992, when she began a pick-it-yourself strawberry field because she was feeling empty nest syndrome after her youngest daughter went to college.
She began growing vegetables in the 1990s, and the summer market is a key part of her business. During the winter, she sells potatoes, eggs, cabbage, onions and garlic at the Regional Market in Syracuse.
She stopped the strawberry crop and now buys the fruit for her stand at the Regional Market in Syracuse at about 4:30 a.m., so she can sell it at the farmers market a few hours later.
“College students and other young people want fruit, and so do young mothers with their WIC coupons,” she said.
Down the sidewalk, Linda Hall of Virgil had also decided to bring more baked goods than usual. Her cakes, pies, cookies and brownies were lined up, just created over a 12-hour span on Friday.
Hall, whose business is called Country Baker, supplements her husband, Shawn’s, income as a supervisor with a wooden flooring manufacturer in Syracuse.
“My oatmeal cookies are already gone,” she said just before 9 a.m., before she was officially open for business. “I have a customer who spends $20 every week, buys a variety of cookies, and he’s upset if I don’t have a certain kind.”
Each vendor pays $50 per season or $10 a week for a parking spot for the market season. A couple of them pay for two spots, if they have a lot to display.
Franklin said the money is used for advertising and promotion, and for a scholarship offered to a college freshman majoring in an agricultural subject. There are two scholarships of $100 each for a male and female recipient.
One recent addition to the market this summer was Fabio’s Restaurant in Cortland, which sells its own salad dressings — Italian dressing and balsamic vinegar dressing. The booth offers samples of sirloin wrapped in Italian flatbread to go with small containers of the dressing. Several people accepted the samples, walked away and then returned to buy the salad dressing bottles.
Nancy and Tim Sandstrom operate Rooster Valley Farms in East Homer as a way to keep Tim occupied during the summer. He is a teacher while Nancy is a certified trainer in organic farming.
They sell tomatoes, basil, kale, squash, dill weed and eggs, all produced by organic farming practices. Saturday was their last day this season, since Tim will be too busy teaching his Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES class.
“We have regular customers, I don’t know how many but the same ones every year,” said Nancy Sandstrom, who said the couple has been selling at the market since 2000, except for two years where they were too busy with family matters.
“The fall really brings people out,” she said. “People are looking for things to do.”
There is another farmers market in the city, on the East End. That one also sells products once a week in Homer.
The Main Street market marked its anniversary with free popcorn and balloons, given away by Hall’s son Marc, 10, who was dressed as a clown.
The vendors said they follow New York state agricultural and food safety practices. Linda Hall includes a label with each baked good, listing its ingredients for the benefit of people with food allergies.


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