Tag Archive | "Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market"

Physician Shops the Rainbow at the Sag Harbor Farmers Market

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Dr. Neil Barnard, right, was joined by Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride, for a tour of the Sag Harbor Farmers Market on Saturday and stopped to talk with Matt Laspia, left. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

It was a bit like preaching to the choir when Dr. Neil Barnard, the president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, whose books on the advantages of a plant-based diet, are widely read, paid a visit to the Sag Harbor Farmers Market on Bay Street on Saturday morning.

Dr. Barnard, who is based in Washington, D.C., led a whirlwind, “Shop the Nutrition Rainbow” tour of the various stands, pointing out the health benefits of everything from tomatoes to watermelons, as part of an annual weekend visit the East End.

On Friday, he held a talk on nutrition and signed copies of his books at Urban Zen on Bay Street, Saturday night, he attended the “Passion for Compassion” benefit at the Amagansett home of John Bradham.

For Saturday’s tour, he was accompanied by Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride, who praised the farmers market. “Other farmers markets have tried to mimic this,” the mayor said of other locations on the East End, “but none have succeeded like this one.”

Dr. Barnard said he decided to visit Sag Harbor, in large part, because of the reputation of its thriving farmers market. “The market here is legendary,” he said. “What they are providing is so wonderful and fresh.”

Stopping by Bonac Farm’s stand, tended by Matt Laspia, Dr. Barnard pointed out fresh tomatoes.

“Honestly, I eat them out of the field like apples,” Mr. Laspia replied when asked how he prepared them.

A few minutes later, Dr. Barnard was offering slices of fresh watermelon that David Falkowski was selling from his stand.

Both tomatoes and melons contain an important antioxidant that reduces the risk of prostate cancer, he said. “As a doctor, I like them because they are cancer fighters,” he said.

The new potatoes offered by yet another stand “don’t raise your blood sugar like your normal baking  potato,” he added.

The Nutrition Rainbow focuses on eating a “naturally colorful,” heavy on the fruits and vegetables, light on the meats and dairy products, because of the presence of so many cancer fighting compounds contained in them.

It’s well known that America is suffering an epidemic of obesity. “What’s happening is Americans are starting to die earlier,” said Dr. Barnard. “By the time they are in their 30s, they are overweight. By the time they are in the 40s they are on four or five prescription drugs. By the time they are in their 50s, they have quit exercising because they are too unhealthy.”

His simple message, he said? “Let’s stay healthy.”

Local Food Flourishes at Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market

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On the opening day for the Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market last Saturday afternoon, patrons nibbled warm empanadas and homemade organic strawberry rhubarb ice cream, crusty loaves of bread from Blue Duck Bakery and greens from one of five organic farmers at the market.  Dave “the mushroom man” Falkowski spoke to one shopper about recipes, while Art Ludlow of Mecox Bay Dairy and Kevin Dunathan of Goodale Farms offered samples of their cheeses. Meanwhile, a crowd gathered around Sag Harbor farmers Dale Haubrich and Bette Lacina’s “Under the Willow Organics” produce stand, appropriately located in a shady spot of the Bay Street market, while one booth over, someone inspected fluke at Colin Mather’s Seafood Shop.

Organized in 2004 as a way to showcase local farmers during HarborFest weekend in September, the Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market became a model for other East End communities and has grown by leaps and bounds since its first fall in front of the Dockside Bay & Grill.

Now located on village-owned grassland on Bay Street in front of the Breakwater Yacht Club, the Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market runs from the end of May through the end of October. Managed by Ana Nieto and Ivo Tomasini, the market is cooperatively governed by its vendors to ensure that local food and its producers and protected and given priority.

From Montauk to Riverhead and out to Greenport, virtually every community has developed its own farmers’ market in the last five years.

“In many ways, on the East End, the Sag Harbor market was the first, which is why it is very special,” said Nieto. “There is a truly local feeling to this market and outside of the vendors, who are wonderful, it is also a beautiful location and something I think the community looks forward to.”

In addition to longtime vendors like Mecox Bay Dairy, Falkowski’s Open-Minded Organics, the Seafood Shop, Under the Willow Organics, Quail Hill Farm, Blue Duck Bakery and honey producer Bees’ Needs, among others, this year Nieto said the market has added a handful of new vendors meant to compliment what already exists at the market.

Farmer and author Marilee Foster chose to pursue other ventures this season and opted out of the market, said Nieto. One of the markets’ rules is to limit the number of vegetable farmers to five to ensure it is profitable. With Foster gone, North Haven’s own Sunset Beach Farm, a certified organic, community-based farm petitioned to become a part of the market and was accepted.

For farmers Karin Bellemare and Jon Wagner, while they also work other farmers’ markets like many vendors, being in Sag Harbor is home.

“We were finally a part of the community we are growing in,” said Bellemare. “I feel like the vendors are really committed to the community in this market. I think everyone has same values. There is a really nice vibe.”

Sunset Beach Farm has been operating for three years, farming 13-acres between their land in North Haven and land owned by the Peconic Land Trust next to Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett.

The farm offers a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) for community members, who can pick up a weekly share of the farm’s organic harvest. At the farmers’ market, Bellemare said she is selling pea shoots, Asian greens, green garlic, bean spouts, lettuces, kale and Swiss chard, but the farm grows a full palate of vegetable offerings throughout the season.

Bellemare said the farm has also expanded into raising organic chickens for sale and for eggs, and soon enough Sunset Beach Farm organic chicken will be on the Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market menu.

Perhaps the newest addition to the East End food shed, long awash in seafood and produce, are locally produced meats. While East Hampton’s Iacono Farm and North Sea Farms on Noyac Road have long sold local chicken, Sunset Beach Farm will offer the first certified organic chicken grown locally. Mecox Bay Dairy, which last year expanded to offer local beef, will also offer local pork this season, according to Ludlow.

Also new to the market is Goodale Farms, which sells goat cheese and milk products, Good Water Farms and its microgreens, and True Blue Coffee fair trade Jamaican coffee from Montauk.

The Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market will also feature two food producers who seek to make their goods out of local ingredients. A former chef from East Hampton, Luchi Masliah has opened Gula-Gula Empanadas at the market and hopes to use local products as often as she can.

From Uruguay, Masliah used to own the Amagansett Fish Company, but just recently has returned to the culinary arts. She makes her empanada dough from scratch and for her vegetable empanadas, sources greens from Haubrich and Lacina. She would also like to work with Ludlow to develop a pork empanada using Mecox Bay Dairy products and is keeping her eyes open for other local options.

“It’s more expensive for me, but they are quality ingredients and we manage to put our product out there at a price that people seem happy with,” said Masliah.

Joe and Liza Tremblay, owners of Bay Burger and Joe & Liza’s Ice Cream, spent the last year evolving their ice cream from a traditional formula with emulsifiers to a completely all-nature recipe using dairy from a small cooperative in the Hudson Valley.

At the farmers’ market, Joe Tremblay says they would like to craft locally inspired recipes — like Quail Hill Farm rhubarb and strawberry ice cream or Fat Ass Fudge, another vendor, and local mint ice cream.

“Just being in an agricultural area and having friends in this business, we want to support our farms and use their produce as it becomes available,” said Tremblay. “We have such a strong food community and we are happy to be a part of that.”

The Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday through October 27 on Bay Street at the intersection of Burke Street in Sag Harbor from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Image: Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano and Sag Harbor Village Trustee Bruce Stafford help Ana Nieto, Ivo Tomasini and market vendors open the season with a vine cutting. Photo by Bryan Boyhan)

Farmers Market Now Takes Food Stamps

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By Claire Walla

For many East End residents, farmers’ markets provide the ideal shopping experience: a place to buy fresh foods and simultaneously give back to the local community.

While local markets have continued to pop up around the East End — most recently on Shelter Island —Ivo Tomasini, co-manager of the Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market, said there is still a percentage of the population for whom the markets seem to be out-of-reach.

“We get a lot of: ‘The market’s great, but it’s too expensive!’” Tomasini explained. “That’s one of the biggest hurdles in our marketing efforts.  There is definitely this notion that farmers’ markets are expensive.”

To help address the issue, Tomasini and his wife and co-manager Ana Nieto introduced an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) program, which essentially means those who qualify for federally funded food stamps can now shop at the local market, too.

In essence, food stamp qualifiers can hand a government-issued debit card to Tomasini or Nieto, who set-up shop at the front of the market, and one of the two managers will swipe the card for the amount desired by each shopper and then hand them tokens accordingly. (Each token is equal to $1.)  Shoppers will then be able to use the tokens to pay the vendors.

Tomasini said the desire to make the Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market food-stamp-compliant didn’t come from customers. Rather, Tomasini said he and Nieto — who have been running the market for about a year, now — are following a national trend.

“There’s a lot of popularity and buzz around the program throughout the nation,” he explained. “And because it’s so popular on a national scale, we thought: Let’s have it at our market.”

Tomasini and Nieto actually spoke to farmers’ market managers across the country, namely those Colorado and Virginia, who have already implemented EBT systems to some success. They also researched the system more locally, speaking with the farmers’ market manager in Westhampton Beach.

“It takes time for it to be successful,” Tomasini concluded. “This will be a whole learning process for both the vendors and the customers.  Normally, people [who are on government assistance programs] will just go to a typical grocery store to buy food.”

He added that it will be the job of the market managers to get the word out to the public that they have other options when it comes to paying.

As for the vendors, education will come in the way of what can and can’t be sold to customers. Foods accepted by the federally funded program are: fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, poultry, dairy products, baked goods, jams, jellies, honey, maple products, juices, as well as plants or seeds (excluding cut flowers and ornamental plants, like Christmas trees). Exempted items are “basically, anything that’s a non-food item or anything for immediate consumption,” Tomasini explained. These rules won’t really affect the Sag Harbor market, he continued, because there isn’t a lot of prepared food for sale.  Though food-stamp shoppers will be exempt from buying wine.

While Tomasini said he and Nieto have yet to serve a customer using a government assistance program, he hopes the program will encourage more people to take advantage of the market and shop locally. And, in this economy, he suspects there are a lot of people out here who fit that description.

“Quite a few people have already come through the market in Westhampton,” Tomasini gleaned from conversations with the manager there. “People have pulled up to the market in a Mercedes and then pulled out a food stamp — this economy has created a very bizarre juxtaposition. The whole demographics of people who are on food stamps now is changing dramatically.”

Though this season is almost over, Tomasini and Nieto hope to transfer the EBT program to the winter market (for which they are in the process of trying to secure a space). And they will continue to offer EBT services next season.

Once word on the program gets out there, Tomasini continued, “We hope people will start to come out of the woodwork.”

Where’s the Beef? At Mecox Bay Dairy

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Mecox Bay Dairy owner Art Ludlow casually chatted with customers Friday morning at the East Hampton Farmers Market as he cut hunks of his celebrated Mecox Sunrise, Sigit, Atlantic Mist and Shawondasee cheeses from large wheels. For many, this moment was not out of the ordinary — the fourth generation farmer is a staple at literally every farmers’ market on the South Fork, hawking his prized cheeses produced from the Jersey cows raised on his Bridgehampton farm.

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But for those in know, a Styrofoam freezer sat discreetly behind Ludlow representing a new era for followers of the Slow Food movement on the East End. The cooler held various cuts of grass fed, Bridgehampton beef, which has been unavailable for legal commercial sale since the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) began regulating meat production over 100 years ago.

“It’s not in my nature to display myself,” said Ludlow on Monday as to the lack of signage announcing this almost historic moment in local food. “I do want people to know though. I was reluctant to get too public with it at first — one issue being was it going to be fit to eat. But then we had some for dinner and that cleared that up right away. It was excellent.”

Sitting in a stall next to Ludlow, Amagansett Food Institute Director Jennifer Desmond said she and Amber Waves farmers’ Katie Baldwin and Amanda Morrow sampled some of Ludlow’s steaks at their farm the evening before.

“It was delicious,” she said.

“This is historic,” East Hampton Farmers’ Market Director Kate Plumb said while walking around the market later that morning.

Plumb noted that while the East End is known for local seafood, produce and even chickens, it has long lacked locally raised meats.

And now that has all changed.

For Ludlow, expanding the use of his dairy farm, where he produces a variety of artisanal cheeses, was a natural extension — not just as a businessman, but as a farmer and member of the East End community.

Nestled on the northeast border of Mecox Bay and the northern end of Swan Creek, Ludlow, his wife Stacy and their sons Peter and John began producing raw milk cheeses at Mecox Bay Dairy in 2003.

Mecox Bay Dairy was founded after Ludlow decided to focus his efforts on the dairy farm, which is the last Jersey cow dairy on Long Island.

Making the transition to include selling the grass fed beef used to produce his cheeses, said Ludlow, was an idea his family has talked about since they started the dairy farm.

“The difference now is since we have gotten involved with the farmers’ market we can see there is a real demand for it,” said Ludlow.

While he briefly considered setting up a shop on the farm to process the beef, Ludlow said he quickly realized the small-scale of his production didn’t lend itself towards building his own facility. Instead, he chose to take his cows to upstate New York where they are processed and packaged under the watchful eye of the USDA.

While the demand for a product like his grass-fed beef does exist, Ludlow said taking this leap also came from a desire to ensure his animals are treated in the best possible way for their entire lives.

“This way I do have control over my animals, who I want to make sure are treated in the best possible way, from birth to death,” he said. “So when a cow is no longer milking, I don’t have to ship them off to some miserable place.”

Ludlow added that as a fourth-generation farmer, this is also a part of the farming tradition, and therefore has been a part of his whole life.

“I grew up doing this,” said Ludlow. “We have had animals on this farm since I was a child. I grew up familiar with slaughtering, butchering and eating our own animals. I do understand the issue that some people have with it — eating a steak with a name — but it is something that is natural for me because I grew up with it. It is a fact of life. Death is a part of life.”

This summer, selling the beef is truly a pilot program, as Ludlow feels out the demand through farmers’ markets and weighs that against the numbers in his herd. He added he could run out of beef before the season is over, and is already coming up with formal plans for next year.

So far, just two weeks into selling the beef, Ludlow has heard that his efforts appear to have paid off.

He is selling a variety of cuts, in an attempt to waste as little of the animal as possible, including short ribs, ground beef, all cuts of steak, London broils, pot roasts, rump roasts, and shanks, the last of which he has yet to try, but expects will be delicious.

“We have a philosophy about how we want to produce food,” said Ludlow. “I only sell what I choose to sell, what I choose to grow. I am not compromising my standards by fattening my cows with grain. When I say grass-fed, I mean grass-fed.”

“I’m doing something for other people,” he said. “I have to sell to stay in business, but business is not how I look at this, it is providing nutrition. What is more important than what you put in your body? The more people recognize that and take it seriously, the more I feel small farms like mine will become important and profitable.”

Local Goodies At The Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market

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August may have a number of downfalls on the East End – traffic, crowds, the impossibility of procuring a coveted parking space at any of our beautiful beaches – but it also brings with it a bounty of local produce, much of which can be found at the Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market.

The Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market is held every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The market presents a unique opportunity to stock up on local fruits, vegetables, baked goods, cheese, honey, fish and shellfish at one Bay Street, Sag Harbor location.

By 10 a.m. the market is teeming with people, standing in line for some of Bette Lacina and Dale Haubrich’s organic vegetables, perusing the produce from Quail Hill, gaining insight from David Falkowski on the best preparations for his awe-inspiring mushrooms, or sampling the cheese from Art Ludlow’s Mecox Dairy stand.

When we arrived this past Saturday, just after 10 a.m., we had already missed out on Bette and Dale’s infamous mixed greens as well as their arugula, which quickly sells out each week. While we had visions of the nutty arugula complimenting one of our now daily local tomato salads, we were more than pleased with the yellow zucchini, red beets and heirloom tomatoes we happily tucked into our canvas bag. 

With plans to roast a chicken from Iacono Farm in East Hampton on Sunday, we knew a stop at David Falkowski’s Open Minded Organics stand was a must. Falkowski’s mushrooms are truly special, cultivated in Bridgehampton and picked the morning of the farmers’ market. While grocery stores, and especially luxury grocery chains like Citarella, now carry a variety of mushrooms, it is near impossible to ensure the freshness that Falkowski can deliver. In addition to procuring a brown paper sack filled to the brim with blue and yellow oyster mushrooms and the shitake variety, we also stuck around to listen to Falkowski ruminate on his favorite ways to prepare both his fresh mushrooms and the organic dry mushrooms he sells at his stand. 

While market goers focused on gathering their weekly produce certainly have a mecca in the Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market, but it is not just the numerous vegetable and fruit stands and Falkowski mushrooms that make it special. The market has a number of local, speciality goods including shellfish and seafood from The Seafood Shop, baked goods from the Blue Duck Bakery and jellies and condiments from A Taste of the North Fork. Art Ludlow, of Mecox Farm Dairy, also offers a number of artisnal cheeses and a number of honey varieties from The Bees Needs are also on hand, for tasting and purchasing. 

It is the time of year where one can truly revel in the best of local fruits and vegetables, and in our household, not eating a tomato or a piece of corn every day is almost considered a crime. So for those who have yet to delve into this incredible bounty, we suggest stopping by the Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market – a market that is still local, still fresh and has a lot of variety in its people and products.