NEW LEBANON — The New Lebanon Farmer’s Market will be operating year-round with a new indoor space.
The outdoor farmer’s market takes place on Sundays from the beginning of June to the end of October, Young said. The indoor market will be open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. The indoor farmers market is located at 528 Route 20 on the corner of West Street in downtown New Lebanon.
A year-round farmers market allows local patrons easier access to fresh produce, director of the New Lebanon Farmers Market Josh Young said.
“From where I’m standing right now in New Lebanon it’s over 20 minutes to the nearest grocery store,” Young said. “Food access is a really serious problem in New Lebanon. There’s a Dollar Store here but that’s the best the town has been able to do in the 15 or whatever years, since the grocery store that used to be here folded.”
A year-round farmers market gives local residents greater access to fresh food, Young said.
“If you want celery or a green pepper you have to go a long way,” Young said. “New Lebanon is a food desert. This just alleviates that problem it gives people way better access to fresh healthy food.”
The farmers market is staffed volunteers, Young said. There are eight volunteers who staff the indoor market and do things like receive deliveries, put products on shelves, work during the market’s operating hours and assist customers.
“The farmers bring there products to market, but don’t have to stand around all day selling them,” Young said. “That’s a lot of work, that’s a lot of time, that’s a lot of effort for farmers to do that, and some just can’t make it work, they need to be actually growing vegetables or raising chickens or producing food. The indoor market actually, by lowing the barriers to participation makes selling food there much more accessible to more producers.”
Farmers make decisions about what they want to bring to the market, and what prices they would like to get for their products Young said. He explained at the end of the week the run the numbers and each farmer receives a check for their products sold.
A key components for the indoor farmers market is refrigeration Young said He explained a lot of refrigeration is required to keep food fresh, and refrigeration is expensive Young said. He said they have two three-door refrigerators and a two-door freezer
“It was like $15,000 worth of refrigeration that we absolutely could not have afforded if we had to buy it ourselves,” Young said. “We have been working with this really cool non-profit called Berkshire Agricultural Ventures, they basically gave us a really low interest loan to buy those things.”
The indoor farmers market also has costs such as rent, utilities or supplies Young said. He explained costs are able to be covered by adding a 12% fee onto the prices that farmers define for their products.
“There are probably a lot of small towns that are in this same position the New Lebanon is in,” Young said. “Which is to say there’s not nobody here, its a pretty spread out place, but there’s a couple-thousand people, and yet there’s no grocery store. one of the things we’re trying to show is you can take that effort, you can take the fact that there are local farmers, and try to organize that into something that’s better and more helpful for the community.”