On Saturday morning at Bay Burger just outside of Sag Harbor, families meandered around the inside and outside of the popular café, sampling foods and sharing stories with friends as children scampered from one table to the next.
The interesting thing about this moment is the fact that Bay Burger is closed for the season. However, owners Joe and Liza Tremblay have opened up their establishment each Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to host the East End Fair Foods Market.
The market, which is run by Ana Nieto and Ivo Tomasini — partners in life and in their health and wellness business, Turtle Shell Health — offers residents in the area a winter alternative to the Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market.
Nieto and Tomasini also run that market, but the entities are separate, in location and in the kind of vendors they support.
The East End Fair Foods Market features a diverse group of vendors offering local vegetables, eggs, artisanal cheeses, baked goods, local preserves, wine and even wreaths and gifts in celebration of the holiday season.
On Saturday, farmer Marilee Foster, farmers from Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett and Sunset Beach Farm in North Haven, as well as East Hampton farmer Regina Whitney manned outside tables overflowing with bright orange carrots, winter greens, salad greens, cauliflower, beets and potatoes.
Inside, three-year-old Finny Dianora-Brondal waited somewhat patiently with his parents for Bridgehampton farmer and Mecox Dairy founder Art Ludlow to dole out pieces of his sweet, yet sharp, cheddar cheese. Across the room, residents sampled goat cheese from Riverhead’s Goodale Farms, tried dots of sauces from Pete’s Endless Summer on toasted tortilla chips, sipped wine samples from Wölffer Estate Vineyards and sampled pound cakes from the Polka Dot Pound Cake company.
According to Nieto, while this is the market’s second year it is first organizers opened as soon as the summer farmers’ market closed, and unlike last year will remain open through the spring.
The winter market, said Nieto, not only supports local farmers and food producers who are looking for an opportunity to sell their goods in the off-season, but it also allows vendors like Greeny’s Natural Food Market from Shelter Island the opportunity to branch out into the Sag Harbor market. In the summer, Greeny’s is not at the Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market, but instead sets up shop at the Southampton Farmers’ Market.
“It’s a great opportunity for everyone,” said Nieto. “Our main goal is just to keep supporting our local community, its businesses and the economy. Having a market in the winter, we hope, keeps more money here.”
For Whitney, one of several farmers at the market on Saturday, having a market to continue to share her goods, which includes handcrafted wreaths for Christmas, after all of the markets have closed is an important way for her to stretch her revenue stream through the holiday season before taking a much needed break in the winter.
“People seem to really be getting what this is all about,” added Whitney. “They are asking themselves, ‘What am I eating and where is it from’?”
For Mare Dianora, the market has also encouraged her to get out into her community and support local food producers. Her husband, Claes Brondal, said seeing the community come together in the off-season was refreshing, especially since it is in the winter that people need to feel a sense of community more than any other time of the year.
“My favorite part is the social aspect,” said Dianora. “It is so great to bump into people. I love seeing new vendors and what they offer.”
As for their son, the child eyeing Ludlow’s cheese display, it is pretty obvious why he loves coming to the market.
“He wants a cow and to live on Art’s farm so he can eat cheese all day,” said Dianora.
The East End Fair Foods Market is held every Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Bay Burger on the Sag Harbor/Bridgehampton Turnpike.