It’s National Farmers’ Market Week, and the Catskills are celebrating big with a seven-day affair, Sullivan-style. The occasion commenced last weekend and still runs through Aug. 13, with a septet of markets throughout the county bringing together hundreds of local vendors and featuring special events and live cooking demos. But before you get bagging, here’s what not to do while you’re there.
Handle Produce Carefully
“I’ve had people start juggling zucchini at my stand,” says Ferndale-based Beaver Dam Brook farmer Matt Burns. “We’ve put in a lot of hours in the sun to grow our produce, and it’s insulting when people mishandle it.” He suggests you ask for help when looking for a specific size or ripeness to prevent product bruising and damage, even if it’s unintentional.
Don’t Treat Sample Tables Like a Buffet
While sampling is a great way for vendors to showcase their offerings, there are plenty of people who’ll eat everything (sometimes twice), express love for the product, and leave without making a purchase. When vendors choose to offer samples, bear in mind they’re making an investment into their business, whether it be a few dollars or a hundred. “Remember that you’re at a farmers’ market, not a big box store with products produced from big corporations,” advises Danielle Gaebel, co-founder of Narrowsburg’s Natural Contents Kitchen. “Sample responsibly.”
Refrain from Complaining About High Prices
“Sure, you could find produce cheaper at your local ShopRite,” says Burns. “But ours is picked fresh.” The longtime farmer wakes up at 4 am on market days to ensure that his produce has been picked within the last few hours, not days. Additionally, most of the produce you’ll find at the farm stand is organic and GMO free, making it well worth the investment in your family’s health.
Keep an Eye on Your Dog
Lastly, the most crucial key to being courteous is keeping your dog far enough from vendor tables. Remember that you’re surrounded by food and people, so come prepared with clean-up bags. And in the event something should happen, “like your dog pees on a vendor’s table cloth,” offers Gaebel by way of example, “acknowledge it and apologize.” Moreover, she reasons, that’s possibly “a great time to make a purchase.”