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Greenport Farmer's Market Sparks Debate Prior to Public Meeting

On Friday evening, Greenport Village will host a special public meeting to hear from all sides about a proposal to put a farmer's market in Mitchell Park on Saturday mornings during the summer season.

will hold a meeting tomorrow on the proposed Greenport Farmer’s Market application to allow the group to use on Saturday mornings from Memorial Day through October and one thing’s for sure — it’s not a done deal.

Although the group has its supporters, there are those concerned about location, parking, and the harm it could do to local businesses.

Ethel Terry of Fred Terry Farms in Orient believes the North Fork is over-saturated with farm stands as is. Terry runs the Long Island Growers Market, which has 17 markets throughout Nassau and Suffolk County and has been in the business for nearly 20 years. Despite her experience, she says the organizers of the Greenport Farmer’s Market never approached her and the only contact she’s had with them was an application they sent in the mail.

“I feel as though farmers’ markets need to be an asset to the community. They need to be put in an area where people will support them. Greenport is over-saturated,” said Terry.

Terry, who says her markets are in areas like Patchogue and Rockville Center, are not-for-profit.  She does not charge the vendors fees and she makes sure there is only one type of each vendor so there is no repetition or competition with local businesses.

“These mom and pop stores in Greenport are struggling. They only have a certain amount of time to make money. This could really hurt the farmers and vineyards,” Terry said. “It just isn’t right.”

Leueen Miller from the Greenport Business Alliance likes the idea of a farmer’s market in Greenport, but said some of the members of the alliance had a few problems with the current proposal.

“I think there a lot of people who would like to see a farmer’s market in Greenport. In principle, it’s a good idea,” said Miller.

What troubles Miller and some of the members of the alliance is the Mitchell Park location, which she described as “problematic.”

“The usage of the park has come up for discussion. Some people feel the Village is giving away usage of the park without proper guidelines,” Miller said.

Miller herself has concerns with the ingress and egress of the tight space. She fears loading and unloading of product to the farmer’s market would be a “nightmare.” Parking is another concern, especially with Greenport’s new restrictions on parking, she said.

Some of the local merchants were also concerned that there would be unnecessary competition between products certain local merchants carried and the products available at the market.

A different location would be the best solution and would address many of the concerns, according to her. Miller suggested the south side of the where there was ample parking and access to people getting off the and . In addition, Miller also suggested using space at or the Polo Grounds.

Right now, Lara McNeil, President of the Board of the Greenport Farmer’s Market, is still positive and is looking forward to speaking to the Greenport trustees. She understands some merchants may be concerned about competition from Mitchell Park, but she added some merchants may be concerned about boat shows and selling sausage and peppers in the park  too.

“There are 27 restaurants in Greenport. Do you say ‘No, you can’t have a restaurant’ because of all the others?”asked McNeil.

McNeil believes the board needs to look and see what has been approved in Mitchell Park already before declining their request to use the park. She said the primary goal for having the farmer’s market is to help the community and give a forum for local charities.

“I think we’re offering something good for the Village. I hope they see that,” McNeil said.

The Greenport Farmer’s Market has joined the Famer’s Market Federation of New York and can now accept Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards.

“17% of Greenporters are at or below the poverty level. The only place in town that accepts the EBT card is ,” McNeil said.

The Greenport Farmer’s Market Inc. is a non-profit organization, and McNeil said she is not making any money on this but believes Greenport businesses will. In fact, she said studies show that businesses near farmer’s markets will see an increase in business.

“I feel the more customers you bring into the village, the better it is for all,” McNeil said.

Mayor David Nyce has deferred public comment on the farmer’s market until he has heard from all parties at Friday night’s meeting.

The meeting will take place on Friday at 6 p.m. at the on Third Street.

John Carway April 08, 2011 at 05:23 PM
I would still like to know how many "Farmers" will be offering their produce at this "Farmers Market"? The vendors list still looks like a boutique market. The few farmers left on The North Fork have pulled back on offerings of locally grown produce sold direct to the public. A Farmers Markek should give them the opportunity to sell their wares at slightly below regular retail and above what they get by selling to a wholesaler. The public should have the opportunity to buy rrally fresh produce at a little less than retail. My sense is that thst farms thst have not been turned into wine factories are smaller and the farmers who operaye them can't afford to construct and staff a stand by themselves. This market, theoretically, should offer them a small window to sell their produce without the overbead of settinv up a large operation. If this isn't happening, then something isn't right.

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