By Annette Hinkle
Ana Nieto and her fiancé, Ivo Tomasini, run the Fair Foods Market, the East End’s only winter farmer’s market which opened at Bay Burger restaurant in early November.
You began the Fair Foods Market in 2010. How did the idea for a winter market come about?
We also run the Sag Harbor summer farmer’s market, and after the market ended in 2010, I thought, ‘Where am I going to shop now?’ I talked to farmers market customers and vendors and asked if they saw a possibility to extend the season.
Did you find local growers still had produce to offer?
They can make the produce last until the end of December and we still have a variety of things like kale, squashes, beets, broccoli and leeks. Some are growing in greenhouses. That’s why I think it’s possible to continue.
Of course, there will be fewer fresh vegetables available as winter sets in. Do you supplement the winter market supplement with other vendors?
It’s still a farmer’s market, so we want to keep it as pure as we can. Most of the vendors are from the Sag Harbor’s Farmers Market. We still have farmers like Art Ludlow from Mecox Bay Dairy with his cheeses. Sunset Beach farm in North Haven also has organic chickens – they are delicious. Then we have bakers, including some who make gluten free products, people who make fudge, spreads, salt and spices and pasta.
How does the summer market differ from the winter one?
The Sag Harbor summer market is run by a board and a leadership committee made up of vendors. By vote, they pick who will be in, so they don’t get too many vendors selling the same thing. It’s very democratic. I love the way it’s run.
With the winter market we tried to follow most of the guidelines that the Sag Harbor Farmer’s Market does, but in winter there are other factors you have to pay attention to.
I imagine part of that is making sure you have enough vendors for a vibrant market.
That’s also different from our market and the summer market. In summer most of the vendors are there every weekend and must be there. The winter one is more flexible. Vendors are coming and going from week to week and some from further away.
Tell me about the winter market’s customers.
This is our third year. We have a loyal base and they know what to expect by now. The first year, they weren’t sure – there were some different vendors and it was a different market.
We have a weekly newsletter we send to subscribers with information about food in general — what’s healthy and what is not — as opposed to just saying here’s who’s going to be here this week. We also like to incorporate things happening in town and on the East End worth mentioning.
The summer market is in the village while the winter market at Bay Burger is just outside Sag Harbor’s borders. Would you eventually like to see both markets in the village?
We would love to be in town. Joe and Liza [Tremblay] have been so generous to offer their space [at Bay Burger]. But a farmer’s market is community oriented. Being closer to town represents what the community wants. You have the plazas in Spain, where I come from, where there’s music and art and everyone goes and hangs out. I like the idea of food and art together. There’s a market every day in Europe in summer. We’re learning from Europe.
I think if we bring people into town it’s good for everyone. People love talking to the farmers, having them explain how the animal was raised or the vegetables grew, how they baked this. The most important part is supporting the community, and I try to do that as much as I can.
The Fair Foods Market at Bay Burger (1742 Sag Harbor/Bridgehampton Turnpike) is every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through the end of December. The market will close for January, 2013, reopen on February 15 and run through May.