Members of the Riverhead Business Improvement District Management Association have decided to no longer host the winter farmer’s market in downtown Riverhead, which had been an annual event since 2014.
But a few participating vendors, including Sang Lee Farms farm manager Lucy Senesac, are hoping to find another space to continue the weekly event.
“It has become a very important way to feed the community in the winter with our greenhouse greens, storage crops and prepared soups,” she said of the market. “We rely on it to keep some of our staff employed year round out here. We also have planned and planted for it, and it would create food waste if we have no outlet for it.”
One of the few farmers markets that is open regularly on the East End in the offseason, it has become a beacon for shoppers looking to buy North Fork produce and goods.
When it first opened in February, 2014, the BIDMA’s winter farmer’s market was a big hit, packing the former Swezey’s furniture store site with buyers and vendors from throughout Long Island. But last year, it lost more than $5,000, according to BIDMA president Steve Shaugher.
BIDMA executive director Diane Tucci said there weren’t even any BID businesses participating in the farmer’s market, even though BID members could participate for free. As a result, the BIDMA last Wednesday voted not to hold the indoor market this winter.
“The first year, it got a great crowd, but it was all downhill after that,” said Dee Muma, who owns Dark Horse Restaurant in downtown and is a BIDMA member.
Vendors like Senesac are looking for an avenue to pursue the market for the 2017-18 season. They are looking for fiscal sponsors and/or a community space to continue the initiative. Those with suggestions can contact Ms. Senesac at (631) 734-7001.
She noted that commercial rent at market rates would not be feasible as the vendors only use the space one day per week a few months out of the year.
“It would be a shame to lose it because of high rent in abandoned retail locations,” Senesac said.
In other news, the Greenport Farmers Market will extend its season from Oct. 7 until Nov. 18 at a new location on Moores Lane, farmers market board president Dorothy Catapano said before the Village Board on Sept. 21. The board approved the market’s extension at Thursday’s meeting. It will run from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturdays, Catapano said.
With Tim Gannon