Bustling farmers’ market has plans to grow

HILLSDALE–The senior member of the Copake Hillsdale Farmers Market Steering Committee, Ron Bixby, reported this week to the Hillsdale Town Board on results of its customer survey.

The survey found that the market, which convenes at Roe Jan Park on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., attracts on average 500 people weekly. Mr. Bixby said the numbers jump to 1,000 on big holidays and drops to 300 after Labor Day.

Sixty percent are weekenders and 40% local residents of Hillsdale, Copake and other surrounding towns.

Regarding buying habits, the survey found that customers spend $15 to $30 at the market weekly, and an additional $50 at local businesses like IGA, Stewarts and Copake Front Porch Market. Using the number of 500 customers, Mr. Bixby estimates that market vendors collectively earn between $7,500 and $15,000 weekly and up to $25,000 is generated for local businesses.

Mr. Bixby identified future goals for the market as increasing the number of vendors and customers, and achieving market sustainability. When asked if the facility could accommodate more people, he responded that the barn space set-ups could be reconfigured and if necessary expanded out onto the pavement, where artisans set up their wares once a month. He acknowledged the board’s concerns about traffic and parking issues at the market. There are currently 27 full and part-time vendors, who must apply annually for space.

Mr. Bixby noted that the market has steadily grown since moving to Roe Jan Park and expects that upcoming publicity in Travel and Leisure, and Conde Nast magazines will help the market reach its goal of increasing customers and vendors.

This year the market is running two weeks longer and will close at the end of October. Mr. Bixby added that the steering committee hopes to revive a winter farmers market in the future.

Town Supervisor Peter Cipkowski called the farmers market “a great success story.”

In other business:

• The board set November 8 for public comments on the proposed 2017 town budget. The public comment session is at 6:30 p.m. and precedes the regular board meeting at 7 p.m.

• Bids for work on the $800,000 Sidewalk–Pedestrian Streetscape project will be opened on October 20 at 11 a.m. Supervisor Cipkowski said that bids have been received from eight contractors so far, some from as far away as Georgia and Ohio. Project designer, GPI, and the state Department of Transportation will review the bids. The town must award a contract within 45 days after opening the bids

• Highway Superintendent Richard Briggs renewed a request that the board honor past resolutions from 2014 and 2015 to transfer $86,000 from the general fund to the highway fund. Briggs said that he would use the money to purchase additional snow removal equipment, attachments, and a trailer for its transport.

Supervisor Cipkowski assigned Town Clerk Kathi Doolan and board member Carmen Barbato to review board minutes, and board members Jill Sims-Elster and Steve Tiger to review videos of board meetings from those years.

Copake Hillsdale Farmers’ Market ranked 13th in state

COPAKE – September marked the end of American Farmland Trust’s summer-long Farmers’ Market Celebration – an annual effort to rally support for local farms and family farmers by calling on shoppers to identify the best of America’s farmers’ markets – ranked Copake Hillsdale Farmers’ Market 13th in the state.

“Farmers’ markets are critical for new and beginning farmers,” says Susan Sink, American Farmland Trust’s Vice President of Development and External Relations, in a press release. “Next generation farmers selling directly to consumers at farmers’ markets have nearly a 10% greater chance of staying in business than those selling goods through traditional retail. And when family farmers thrive – our community, economy and families thrive.”

This year’s celebration encouraged market customers, family farmers and community members to endorse their market in four unique areas: focus on farmers, healthy food for all, pillar of the community and champion for the environment.

Copake Hillsdale Farmers’ Market state rankings are:
people’s choice: 13; focus on farmers: 12; healthy food for all: 12; pillar of the community: 11; and champion for the environment: 10

To visit the Copake Hillsdale Farmers’ Market go to http://www.copakehillsdalefarmersmarket.com.

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