It is hard to miss the East End Food Market. With its iconic window decorations illustrating colorful produce, wildlife and artisanal goods, the building is a recent indicator for many of their passage onto the North Fork. And for the first time, the Riverhead-based farmer’s market will be open year-round.
The East End Food Institute, which runs and operates the weekly market, opened its outdoor summer market on Memorial Day Weekend. Every Saturday, you can find local farmers, chefs and artisans gathered underneath the large white tent selling their goods to locals and visitors alike.
“The outdoor market comes as we begin construction on the existing building, where we will add a kitchen and multi-use space for farmers and chefs,” said Kate Fullam, the executive director of the East End Food Institute. “Our new building will allow those who visit the indoor market to get a behind-the-scenes look into the kitchen.”
This construction is the first step in a complete rebrand for the East End Food Institute. Now East End Food, the organization offers several different programs aimed at creating more equitable and sustainable food systems on the East End of Long Island.
East End Food’s indoor winter market initially began to provide farmers with a year-round revenue stream where they get face-to-face interaction with customers. The new building will not only continue to promote locally grown produce and goods but will provide a space for craft artisans to turn that produce into products.
The rebrand will also focus on the community as a whole.
“Everyone has to eat. We are working to make people more aware of what it means environmentally, economically and for human health to eat local,” Fullam said. “When people understand where their food comes from, they become stakeholders in the regional food system. We want to provide educational opportunities for everyone of all ages to learn about how local food can create positive impacts for our community.”
While the building undergoes construction this summer, the outdoor space has become home to a weekly farmer’s market where 28 vendors sell their produce and product and interact with the community.
“This market provides a valuable way to provide fresh food directly to the customer,” said Andrew Wheaton, co-owner of Coastal Roots Farm in Southhold and the newest vendor to the market. “More importantly, it is an opportunity to communicate with our customers and let them know where their food is coming from. Seeing returning customers and meeting new ones is one of the best parts of this line of work and can make all the hard work leading up to the market feel more rewarding.”
This summer, the space will also see multiple educational events for adults and children on Thursday and Friday evenings. The events fall into four categories: taste, create, learn and play.
“Taste will be events surrounding food and drink, whether it be cooking demos or tastings,” said Fullam. “Create will be cross-over events with art like paint and sip nights or creating a piece of pottery. Learn events will be lectures from different farmers or producers, providing the community with further knowledge about the technicalities of running a farm. And play will be family events that feature local food and activities.”
On Friday, June 16 starting at 5:30 p.m., join East End Food for a create event, Watercolor & Wine: North Fork Barn Painting with Melissa Hyatt and check their social media throughout the summer for more events as they are announced.
The outdoor market is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through October 28 at 139 Main Road, Riverhead. Visit their website to see a full list of participating vendors or sign up to be a vendor.