After a pandemic-era hiatus, the Riverhead Farmers Market is coming back in late November.
Kate Fullam, executive director of the East End Food Institute, said the organization signed a three-year lease for the former Homeside Florist and Garden Center property at 139 Main Road in Riverhead. The indoor market is set to launch on Nov. 27 and run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays through April 30.
“It feels like moving into the Plaza,” said Aki Goldberg of Aki’s Kitchen, who plans to sell products at the market. “I’m very excited about this opportunity, to be able to get through the winter knowing that we have an incredible outlet to be in touch with our clients and to showcase our products.”
Ms. Goldberg, who is a business member of the East End Food Institute, said the building will allow vendors to be more creative with their booths and compared the upcoming space for local vendors to a supermarket. There will be live music, potential events and more permanent options for local vendors, she added.
“I think the market will offer choices. My choice is to be able to leave everything there and build something permanent and something that has room to grow,” she said. There will also be space for vendors who don’t want a long-term presence at the market.
The farmers market is the East End Food Institute’s latest effort to support local farmers and improve access to local food. Ms. Fullam said the nonprofit is open to adding more market days at the site.
“We serve within the food system to streamline connections between farms and food producers and institutions, whether it be schools, hospitals, food pantries, senior centers, all the way down to the individual to try to make it easier for people to understand the value of local food and also to be able to access it,” she said.
The East End Food Institute hopes to eventually establish a food processing facility at the site as well. “Adding on the food production facility adjacent to the market really centralizes that retail and production opportunity for vendors during the off-season,” Ms. Fullam said.
The new site is a better long term fit than the market’s previous location on East Main Street in Riverhead, she added. “[Vendors] want a more permanent space to be able to set up, process their products … It’s also a central location with better access, versus having to go downtown.”
She noted that the market will accept SNAP benefits for the first time and partner with Field & Fork Network, a Buffalo-based nonprofit, to launch Double Up Food Bucks at the site. The program would enable SNAP-eligible customers to double their funds for purchases of fresh fruit and vegetables and any fruit-bearing plants or herbs.
Vendor applications for the Riverhead Farmers Market are open on eastendfood.org.