HUDSON–On Saturday, May 12, a crowd of shoppers and local dignitaries congregated at the Hudson Farmers Market at 6th and Columbia Streets to celebrate its 15th anniversary at a grand opening with speeches accompanied by music and the roll of drums.
The market was started in 1997 by the late Milton Meisner with help from his friend Dr. Norman Posner, who had recently retired from his ob-gyn medical practice and wanted something to do.
“I had just retired from Albany Med and thought I’d go nuts if I didn’t keep busy,” Mr. Posner recalled. “It was fun. We took turns opening the place. We made sure our supervision was benign, but after someone showed up with pineapples and coconuts to sell, we vetted the farmers to make sure they were local. This market supports local farmers.”
Mr. Meisner was a farmer turned realtor. He grew up accompanying his father delivering eggs to Hudson customers. There was no longer a supermarket in Hudson and he wanted to provide a place where local people could buy fresh local foods. They started with a small group of four or five farmers. After Mr. Meisner stopped running the market, he ran a coffee concession there and showed up, rain or shine.
The market has grown to 32 vendors and shoppers can buy a variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, cheeses, meat, flowers, and other locally made products directly from the producers. “The market is much busier than it ever was,” said fruit farmer Dale Baker, who administered the market with Virginia Ambrose after Mr. Meisner and Mr. Posner retired.
The Market started in the park but soon moved to the municipal parking lot located between 5th and 6th streets on Columbia. “The park was dangerous,” said Mr. Posner. “There was no parking for vendors’ trucks or for customers and there were a lot of cars.”
The market is now a cooperative, with each vendor having one vote on operational questions, including the selection of new members. Vendors are required to sell food products made or grown locally.
The operation has benefitted from the growing awareness of consumers that if they don’t support local farming it may disappear, and farmers have gained a way to sell directly to the public, eliminating middlemen and enhancing their ability to make a living.
Chris and Katie Cashen, who run the Farm at Miller’s Crossing on Roxbury Road in Claverack, provide food to four different community supported agriculture (CSA) groups. The Hudson Market is their only retail outlet for their plants, flowers, vegetable seedlings, salad greens, frozen vegetables and meats. They have sold their produce at the market for 10 years.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Chris. “Hudson has seen a huge transformation, and the market has grown along with it. A synergy has developed between customers and vendors. The diversity of products helps customers go away happy. It’s become a great thing.”