East End Food Institute Executive Director Kate Fullam has loved taking her daughter to the indoor Riverhead Farmers Market in recent years.
She’d have a cup of joe from Tend Coffee, do some taste testing of products from some of the nearly 40 vendors and watch her daughter delight at the sight of the Angora rabbits Nuna Knits’ Peggie Ehlers would bring. When a few farmers approached her to see if East End Food Institute would be interested in running the market in 2019-20, she jumped at the chance.
“A lot of people are trying to make a successful farm and food business on the East End and throughout Long Island, and they counted on this as a place where they can sell their goods during the winter,” Fullam said. “It’s a wonderful sense of community there.”
East End Food Institute is taking the reins from Long Island Green Market, which provided administrative support to the market last year. The non-profit will remain mostly behind the scenes. For vendors and visitors, Fullam said the market will feel — and taste — like business as usual when it returns for a seventh season on Saturday, Nov. 30.
“We’ll take it all in for the 2019-20 season and see if there are any modifications we can make in the future to streamline the process and make things more efficient. “
The market will return to 54 East Main St., where it moved for 2018-19. The new location offered a significant upgrade: indoor heating.
Fullham expects 40-45 vendors to be on the floor each Saturday, which is comparable to last year. About two-thirds of the current applicant pool are returning businesses, like Sang Lee Farms, Browder’s Birds and Sweet Woodland Farm. Nuna Knits and Peconic River Herb Farm will handle the window displays again. Last year’s designs included knitwear in different colors and textures alongside rustic signage, small gifts and plants from the herb farm.
East End Food Institute will release the final list of vendors sometime after the Nov. 10 application deadline, but she did say 1610 Bakehouse, which makes sourdough bread, will be a first-timer. The market didn’t have a sourdough vendor last year, and Fullam said the bread needs to be tasted to be believed.
“The sourdough has a crunchy, chewy outer crust with a chewy inside that sticks to your teeth,” Fullam said. “It’s perfect.”
For the vendors, participating in the market is about more than selling products to walk-ins. They’re able to stay connected to the local community during what is considered the quiet season out east, as well as learn (and buy) a thing or two from their neighbors.
“It’s nice that those people can … connect and build community, and you see that a lot at the market with different vendors purchasing different things from each other,” she said.
In its first four years, Riverhead was home to the only indoor farmers market on the North Fork, but it got company in 2018 when one opened in Greenport. Fullam said the addition hasn’t impacted the Riverhead Farmers Market and sees it as a plus.
“The more, the merrier, really,” she said. “Greenport is its own distinct area … It’s nice to have anchor points where people can go in the season and during the offseason to support local vendors. I wish there were another on the South Fork.”
For now, Fullam is happy to help carry that mantle for local vendors and neighbors on the North Fork.
“I’m looking forward to being part of it in a closer way,” she said. “I was always looking at it from the outside in as a visitor, and I’m happy to let my role grow to help it keep going.”
The indoor Riverhead Farmers Market will be held every Saturday from Nov. 30 throughApril 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 54 East Main St.