"I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world." -Richard Dawkins

Friday, July 8, 2011

Capital District Farmer's Market Guide [Updated 9/2010]

Originally written for Kids Fun Plaza magazine 9/2010. Yes, I own my content.

Let me guess. For many of you, the children in your lives probably think that all food begins its journey from start to plate in a grocery store, and have likely never comprehended the words ‘farm’ and ‘market’ in the same place at the same time. I base this guess upon my four-year-old, whom, when I told her we were going to a Farmer’s Market, wanted to know where the cows were, and insisted I put her in overalls because they were “farm pants”. This was looking more and more like a learning opportunity at every turn.

I decided to triangulate the capital district, starting out from my hometown of Halfmoon in Saratoga County and visiting three different markets. My husband and daughter in tow, I ventured first to Troy for the Waterfront Market, then to the Halfmoon Farmer’s Market, and finally to the Schenectady Greenmarket, each one unique.

I had first heard about the Troy market from my friend Amanda, who lives right in the same downtown area and does a healthy amount of shopping there. It was at her house that I first tasted and fell in love with two local products that had been purchased at the market. Saratoga Peanut Butter Company’s Monkey Boy (16oz, $5,) a banana-flavored, raisin studded, smooth and natural concoction that’s sure to put a smile on any (peanut friendly) child’s face, and Lloyd Spear Beekeeper’s raw honey ($10.50 buys you at least a few months worth,) a beautiful golden and subtly floral syrup that you can actually taste the openness of nature in. 

The Troy Waterfront Market has a high community atmosphere. Vendor stalls march along in rows, nestled between the old brick walls of the downtown buildings and the glittering waters of the Hudson River. Shade trees offer prime spots to settle down with a cup of hot fair trade coffee and a pastry from one of several local bakers, and a winding walkway leads you down from the food, along the water’s edge to a cluster of stalls offering crafts from local artisans. While sitting on a hill and eating my blueberry muffin from The Placid Baker, I noticed someone I knew in the crowd- a friend of mine whose baby girl has just started solids, her bag filled with vegetables to make home-cooked baby foods. All at once I felt transported to another place, where markets like this are the norm, and seeing your friends and neighbors gathering still-dirty produce into tote bags is just another day in the life.

Halfmoon was a different experience altogether. Located at the fresh and modern looking Grace Fellowship North on Route 146, it’s just kicking off on its feet this summer. It was an intimate assortment of very local produce vendors, offering not much more than one finds at the smattering of sporadically placed farm stands that line the roads in this part suburban, part rural area. Everyone has to start somewhere, though, and with the amount of farming that takes place in Halfmoon, I suspect we can see great things in short order.

The time I spent at the Schenectady Greenmarket was perhaps the most enjoyable. While there is great overlap in vendors between Schenectady and Troy, the Greenmarket seems to have a life of its own. One thing it had going for it immediately was that it offered exponentially better parking opportunities than Troy when it comes to being within downtown city limits. The vendor stalls sit beneath the gleaming gold dome of city hall, forming a right angle and taking up two closed-off city streets, reminiscent of a block party. It intersects with the unique cobblestoned shopping district of Jay Street, and offers a center stage for live music performances to sit and enjoy in the open air. Here we got the opportunity to try Pixie’s Preserves, (190ml $5-$7,) where my daughter and I fell in love with the cantaloupe flavor, a bright orange, perfectly summer flavored jam that quite nearly spirited me away.

This market, like so many others, really seemed to bring the farm-to-city approach to the fore for me, the connection of the concrete jungle to the open fields in a way that feels properly balanced. You see the future by way of the past, embracing a hope that the grocery store, the clunky metal cart, and the recycled air will become less and less of a necessity in our everyday lives.

Farmer’s Market Tips:
  • Don’t forget to bring your reusable shopping bags, but if you plan to buy a lot, consider investing in a rolling basket. (Black Folding Shopping Cart, $28, Target.com)
  • In city areas, parking goes fast, so arrive early and don’t forget you’ll need to walk back to your car with all of your shopping!
  • Another great reason to arrive early is that you’ll have the best selection of goods to choose from.
  • However, if you arrive before closing, you’re likely to get the best deals out of the vendors, who don’t want to have to carry all that food back home with them.
  • If you’re worried about dirty beets, or just like to be organized, buy a few sets of muslin produce bags (check the Produce Bags section of EcoBags.com) or make your own!
  • Don’t worry about cramming down breakfast in a rush before you head out, the selection of coffee, fruit, pastries and fresh foods is bound to satisfy any picky eater in your family.

The Guide:

Empire State Plaza Farmer’s Market
The Empire State Plaza, Harriman State Office Campus, Albany
Wednesdays, Thursdays & Fridays, 10am-2pm

Downtown Albany Farmer’s Market
Maiden Lane Park, Albany
Thursdays, 11am-2pm

Ballston Spa Farmer’s Market
Wiswall Park, Ballston Spa
Thursdays, 3pm-6pm, Saturdays, 9am-12pm

Bethlehem Grange Farmer’s Market
Grange Community Center, SR 396, Selkirk
Thursdays, 12pm-5pm

Cambridge Farmer’s Market
Cambridge Rail & Freight Yard, Main St, Cambridge
Sundays 10am-2pm

CDPHP Farmer’s Market
Patroon Creek Blvd, Albany
Thursdays, 11am-1:30pm

Clifton Park Farmer’s Market
St. George’s Episcopal, Rt 146, Clifton Park
Thursdays, 2pm-5pm

Cohoes Farmer’s Market
Remsen St Municipal Parking Lot, next to Smith’s Restaurant, Cohoes
Fridays, 4pm-7pm

Colonie Farmer’s Market
Albany-Shaker Road, Across from Emerick Lane, Colonie
Saturdays, 9am-1pm

Delmar Farmer’s Market
Bethlehem Middle School, 332 Kenwood Ave, Delmar
Saturdays, 9am-1pm

Fort Edward Farmer’s Market
Broadway Lanes, Rt 4, Fort Edward
Fridays, 10am-1pm

Glens Falls Market
South St Market Pavilion, Downtown Glens Falls
Saturdays, 8am-12pm

Granville Farmer’s Market
Main St, Granville
Mondays, 2pm-5pm

Greenwich Farmer’s Market
Former IGA parking lot on Main St, Greenwich
Thursdays 2pm-5:30pm

Halfmoon Farmer’s Market
Grace Fellowship North, Rt 146, Clifton Park
Sundays, 9am-1pm

Hudson Farmer’s Market
Motor Vehicle parking lot, 6th & Columbia Streets, Hudson
Saturdays, 9am-1pm

Kinderhook Farmer’s Market
Village Square and Green, Kinderhook
Saturdays, 8am-12:30pm

Malta Farmer’s Market
Dave Meager Community Center, Rt 9, Malta
Tuesdays 11am-2pm

Capital District Farmer’s Market
381 Broadway (Rt 32), Menands
Saturdays, 9am-1pm

Niskayuna Farmer’s Market
Niskayuna Reformer Church at Rt 7, Niskayuna
Tuesdays, 3pm-7pm

Queensbury Farmer’s Market
Elk’s Club Lot, 23 Cronin Rd, Queensbury
Mondays, 3pm-6pm

Rensselaer Farmer’s Market
Twin Town Little Fields, Williams Rd, Troy
Thursdays, 2:30pm-5:30pm

Saratoga Farmer’s Market
Under the Pavilions, High Rock Avenue, Saratoga Springs
Wednesdays, 3pm-6pm, Saturdays, 9am-1pm.

Schenectady Greenmarket
Around City Hall, Schenectady
Sundays, 10am-2pm

Scotia Village Farmer’s Market
Municipal Parking Lot along Mohawk Ave, Scotia
Tuesdays, 11am-2pm

Troy Waterfront Farmer’s Market
Headley Park Place, 433 River St, Troy
Saturdays, 9am-1pm

Waterford Harbor Farmer’s Market
1 Tugboat Alley, Waterford
Sundays, 9am-2pm

Watervliet Farmer’s Market
Parking Lot across from Fire Department, Watervliet
Tuesdays, 2:30pm-5:30pm

Whitehall Farmer’s Market
Park on Boulevard, across from Canal, Whitehall
Tuesdays, 1pm-4pm

Have one you'd like to add to the list? Drop a comment!

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