FARM FRESH to Farmers Market : Bush Gardens family farm stays local from seed to sale

Loren and Chris Bush pick lettuce in preparation for their Wednesday Watertown Farmer & Craft market.

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Farmer’s Market Season is Upon Us!

Jay Matteson

By: Jay Matteson

A true sign that Northern New York has moved away from snow season is the beginning of farmer’s markets in May. Fresh, local produce, baked goods, potted flowers and local wine are among some of the things that visitors to a market will find.  Having a great conversation with a friend, getting a bite to eat from a food vendor and sometimes enjoying musical entertainment are extras that make our local open air markets something many look forward to.

    The first market of the year to open is the big Watertown Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays, beginning May 24, in front of the Dulles State Office Building on Washington Street in Watertown. This market features almost everything you want from an outdoor market.  Local produce, eggs, meats, wine, plants, baked products, fudge, candies, honey and many other farm products are available depending upon the time of the season.  You’ll also find arts and crafts, clothing, jewelry, informational booths and many food vendors.  They commonly have musicians providing live performances during the market.  This market begins at 6:30 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. The market accepts FMNP, WIC and SNAP benefits.

    Three markets open on Friday May 26, 2017 and run on Fridays until their end date. The Carthage Farmer’s Market is held at the Farmer’s Market pavilion on Riverside Drive from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. This market accepts FMNP benefits.  The Alexandria Bay Farmer’s Market opens at 9 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. It is located in the Kinney’s Drugs parking lot. The Alexandria Bay Market does not accept any benefit programs. If you can’t make any of the daytime markets, you might want to visit the Jefferson Bulk Milk (Cheese Store) Farmer’s Market on Route 3 in Hounsfield as they start in mid-afternoon at 2:30 p.m. and end at 6 p.m. This market accepts FMNP,WIC, and SNAP benefits. Another market that runs on Fridays but doesn’t open until June 2 is the South Jeff Chamber of Commerce Farm and Artisan Market.  This is the first year for this market which will be held in the big pavilion behind the Adams Volunteer Fire Department.  The South Jeff market starts at 3 p.m. and ends at 7 p.m. allowing people to visit the market after working hours. They will not be accepting any benefit programs.

    On Thursday, June 1, the Clayton Farmer’s Market opens. Held in the Village Park, this market starts at 10 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. They are not accepting any benefit programs. This beautiful location gives visitors a nice chance to walk around downtown Clayton and view the mighty St. Lawrence River.

    Saturdays are also a busy farmer’s market day. The earliest market opens at 9 a.m. in the pavilion at J.B. Wise Place behind Public Square in Watertown. The Saturday Farmer’s Market opens at 9 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m., beginning on June 3. This market accepts FMNP, WIC and SNAP benefits.  Starting June 17 on the Village Green in Cape Vincent, you will find the Cape Vincent Farmer’s Market. This market opens at 10 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. They do not accept any benefit programs.

    A new farmer’s market in Jefferson County is at one of our newest farm wineries. The Busted Farmer’s Market is hosted at the Busted Grapes Winery at 19557 Ball Road, Black River. They are also the only market open on Sundays. Starting on June 18, they will open at 11 a.m. and end at 4 p.m.  They do not accept any benefit programs.  This could be a fun market to visit if you’re not doing anything on a Sunday, just don’t get busted!

    All of this information is available on the calendar of agricultural events found at The list of markets is also available in the “Local Food Guide” published by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County. The local food guide will be available on their website, as soon as it is published.

Chamber Gears up for 2017 Farmers Market

Kylie Peck

Mark your calendar on May 24 as the Greater Watertown Farm & Craft Market prepares for its 40th consecutive year. As we are busy securing vendors for this year’s market, it is important to recognize the history and benefits surrounding this annual event.

    Farmer’s markets have been a part of the national landscape since the mid-1700s and have since become woven into our culture, increasing in number and popularity. Year after year these markets continue to be a welcomed event, encouraging healthy shopping selections, social opportunities and increased business visibility.

    A farmer’s market acts as a source of fresh, nutritious foods from local producers. With farm- fresh options, the farmers are adept at providing an abundance of items at reasonable pricing to local consumers. Partnering with nutrition programs can increase the health and wellness of these area residents by offering the Farmers Market Nutrition Program, Farmers Market Wireless EBT Program and Nutrition Education, resulting in fresh options available to everyone.

    There is a growing trend among consumers to support local farmers and local economies. A farmer’s market is a perfect venue for this trend. Bringing these options to the center of our downtown creates a direct connection with the growers of the foods and creates the opportunity for consumers to ask questions, learn about how their food is produced and get to know the people who are providing the food they feed their families. This centers conversation on healthy cooking options and interest in fresh foods.

    Each week the Farm & Craft Market draws thousands of local shoppers and community members to downtown Watertown with a broad mix of diverse cultural backgrounds, a variety of ages and all levels of economic scale.  Throughout the season, local organizations use the market as a venue to educate the public about their mission, publicize their services and highlight opportunities to become involved.

    Hosting a farmers market also helps build the local economy. Not only does this provide an opportunity for farmers, crafters and food vendors to highlight their offerings and skills, it is also a benefit for local businesses. Customers spill into the surrounding area, bringing foot traffic and sales to downtown shops and eateries. Business owners are encouraged to create incentives to draw customers in to generate commerce in the local community.

    Creating an atmosphere with local entertainment, educational opportunities and local food and product sources transforms our downtown into a vibrant public space, which nurtures the sense of community among residents and visitors alike. Adding local shops to the mix creates the ideal opportunity for downtown visitors to make the most of their outing and truly get a sense of what the city of Watertown has to offer.

    With the opening of the market comes excitement and anticipation that summer is truly on its way and we are able to celebrate the offerings of our local farmers and crafters. Year after year we bring 50 to 60 local producers, crafters and food vendors to the community, creating a unique opportunity in Watertown that is met with much anticipation. If you are a farm or craft vendor, please contact our office to learn more about getting involved in our market. We encourage downtown business owners to get in contact with our team to learn more about getting the most out of our downtown market days.

    The Watertown Farm & Craft Market is held every Wednesday between May 24 and October 4 on Washington Street in downtown Watertown. For more information on the market or to learn about the GWNC Chamber of Commerce, please visit our website, or call us at (315) 788-4400.

Kylie peck is the president and CEO of the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce. She lives in Clayton with her husband and two young boys. Contact her at or 315-788-4400.

Watertown Farm & Craft Market draws large opening day crowd

People browse Bonnie’s Decorative Painting on the opening day of the Farmer’s Maket on Washington Street Wednesday. Justin Sorensen / NNY Business

People browse Bonnie’s Decorative Painting on the opening day of the Farmer’s Maket on Washington Street Wednesday. Justin Sorensen / NNY Business

Washington Street was filled Wednesday, as the Watertown Farm & Craft Market launched its season in a big way.

Hundreds of people came out for the event, despite lower-than-expected temperatures and steady winds. Linda I. Gibbs, owner of Linda Gibbs Handmade, took the cool in stride, showing off a collection of crocheted scarves, hats and bags in front of City Hall. Her traffic was pretty busy for opening day.

“A lot of people came back,” Ms. Gibbs said. “I love seeing return customers.” [Read more…]

Watertown farmers market kicks off Wednesday

Customers shop last year at the Watertown Farm & Craft Market on Washington Street. The market opens for the season Wednesday. Times Photo File.

Customers shop last year at the Watertown Farm & Craft Market on Washington Street. The market opens for the season Wednesday. Times File Photo.

The Watertown Farm & Craft Market will kick off its 37th season Wednesday with 60 spaces for vendors on Washington Street.

The market, hosted by the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce, will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Wednesday through Oct. 1. [Read more…]

Variety of vendors contributed to busy season at Watertown farmers market

Customers check out the wares Wednesday at the last Watertown Farm & Craft Market of the season on Washington Street.

Aubrey J. Smith, a 9-week-old, napped in her stroller Wednesday morning at the Watertown Farm & Craft Market on Washington Street while Margaret G. Patchen gingerly pulled a purple crocheted hat — made cute by a pink flower — over her head.

The baby continued to sleep undisturbed as the $8 hat was removed and paid for by her mother, Marlana J. Smith, during the last day of the market hosted by the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce.

Mrs. Patchen said her sales were up from last year at the market, where a total of 57 vendors participated this season. She attributed that success to an expanded offering of handmade items, including tutu dresses made for young girls and priced from $15 to $40. She also sold turtleneck sweaters for short-haired dogs, designed to keep them warm during the winter.

“I’ve heard many times from customers that I should sell more than just hats during the summer, and the tutus have been very popular this season,” she said. “You have to keep changing things up to have people come back every year to buy things.”

The variety of vendors at the farmers market this year impressed Mrs. Smith, who visited the market for the first time Wednesday with her husband, Jacob W. Smith, a 24-year-old Fort Drum soldier who returned from Afghanistan two weeks ago. The young couple from Fort Smith, Ark., said the farmers market is a notch above others they’ve visited.

In Arkansas, “markets are usually out of town so you have to drive a half-hour, and they only sell fruits and vegetables,” Mrs. Smith said. “I like having the variety here, and it’s a lot bigger than I thought it would be. I’ll be back next summer.”

A line of people waited Wednesday at the fruit and vegetable stand run by Simmons Farm of Copenhagen. Purchasing a handful of cucumbers grown at the farm was Kimberlin S. Ponciano. The Watertown resident, who is employed as a nurse at Samaritan Medical Center, has been a loyal customer at the market.

“I usually buy cucumbers and squash to make salads,” the 31-year-old said. “I also like to buy bottles of wine from Coyote Moon.”

Ms. Ponciano is among a group of regular customers who buy fresh produce from Simmons Farm. Vendor Shari L. Simmons often sells out of fruits and vegetables, which fill baskets to the brim when the market opens at 6:30 a.m. Wednesdays. One new trend is that customers now are sending her text messages with their shopping lists to reserve their purchases in advance, she said.

On Wednesday, customers made large orders to stock their freezers with fresh produce for the winter.

“A lot of my customers would be happy if they could spend the entire year at the farmers market without having to go to the grocery store,” said Mrs. Simmons, 54. “They like it here because they know where their stuff comes from.”

Patrons who are natives of Southern states often have a penchant for sweet-tasting wines offered by Coyote Moon Vineyards, said Lori S. Randazzo, co-owner of the Clayton-based winery. Its wine called Fire Boat Red, made with Concord grapes, is especially popular at Coyote Moon, which has been a vendor at the market for four years.

“We call it ‘sweet nectar from the north country,’ because a lot of people from the South like the sweet wines and come here just to buy them,” Mrs. Randazzo said.

Thanks to a grant of about $10,000 from the state FreshConnect program secured this year by the Watertown chamber, special discounts for low-income families were offered this season. For every $5 purchase made with EBT cards, customers received a $2 discount coupon, said Georgia F. Gagnon, assistant market manager. Ms. Gagnon, who was hired by the chamber thanks to the FreshConnect grant, said the program aims to make fresh produce affordable for low-income families.

“We’ve gotten quite a few new customers who have asked about how this works,” she said. “We usually get large crowds here at the beginning of the month when people get their food stamps. Saving $8 in coupons when you spend $40” is a good incentive.

-Ted Booker, Watertown Daily Times

Farmers market to conclude lively business season today

People spend their lunch hour at the final farmers market of last season on Washington Street. Photo by Norm Johnston.

Sunny weather this summer that’s carried into the fall has made the Farm and Craft Market in downtown Watertown a frequent stop for both tourists and area families.

To be hosted for the final time this season from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, the market has reeled in thousands to Washington Street with its range of fresh produce, handmade crafts and live entertainment, said Michelle A. Farrell, director of events for the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce.

“You get to enjoy the hot weather with lemonade, snow cones and ice cream,” she said. “The downtown sidewalks are a beautiful venue with the sun shining.”

Fifty-five vendors maxed out the 82 available spaces for the farmers market this year, including four new arrivals. In addition to the farmers selling fresh produce, the market’s also become an ideal spot for newly launched small businesses looking to get the word out.

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