by Bill Batson
Each Thursday morning at 6 am, over a dozen vendors arrive in the municipal parking lot in Nyack. Two hours later, a tent village has risen from the asphalt. Crates of locally grown produce and boxes of fresh baked goods are presented for sale on folding tables. Since May 10th, I have recorded this vibrant expression of the commercial life of our village each week as the first artist-in-residence for Nyack’s Farmers’ Market.
Nyack’s Farmers’ Market is a project of the Nyack Chamber of Commerce. Launched in 1979 in Veteran’s Park by Carol Baxter, the Market has had various managers including Lorie Reynolds and one time Chamber Board member Art Clark. Currently, the market is supervised by Chamber Board member Carlo Pellegrini and managed by Pam Moskowitz.
Pellegrini estimates that up to 1,000 shoppers visit the market each Thursday. From its inception, the mission of the market has been to surpass the noble goal of providing quality goods at reasonable prices. Pellegrini see the market as “a place where folks come to meet, and greet each other and catch up on news of each others’ lives and the Village.”
As proud as Pellegrini is of the role that the Chamber plays in operating the market, the very spelling of the name of the market reflects the driving force behind the venture. “Farmers’ is purposely spelled with an s’ … not an ‘s … Because this is truly the market of the farmers who show up every week.” Pellegrini said.
One of the most exciting developments in the 15-year history of the Farmers’ Market, the establishment of an indoor market, was the brainchild of an original vendor, Richard Concklin of The Orchards of Concklin. In collaboration with the new venue, the Nyack Center, the indoor market will operate on Thursdays from 8-2 pm starting on November 29 until May 2, 2013, when the outdoor market will recommence.
Another development that distinguishes Nyack’s Farmers’ Market is the advent of live performance. Spring and Summer afternoons have the feel of a county fair when performing artists like the Bossy Frog Band and Mario the Magician attract families to downtown Nyack for a show, a chance to mingle with friends, and then shop.
Historically, communal markets have been a civilizing force in the evolution of human society. Every culture on every continent has developed strikingly similar forums were people who produce goods find consumers. Whether the venue was as basic as the shade of a large tree, or a built structure with permanent stalls, these markets became the center of community life.
The market place has played a pivotal role in the social and financial organization of our civilization. Our economy, referred to as a “market-based” system, was modeled on the dynamic of individuals entering a market place to compete for the best value for commodities. The word bank comes from the Italian word for bench, banco: the surface from which the practices that would become our modern banking system were pioneered in medieval markets.
Gradually, through the centuries, fixed public markets, like London’s Covent Garden or the West Side Market in Cleveland, Ohio were eventually superseded by commercial districts, shopping centers and finally, the Mall.
However, over the last 25 years, the farmers’ market movement has reasserted some of the values of the ancient market place where people bought their food directly from the producer. This more direct exchange between consumer and producer removes the added expense and waste created by the armies of middlemen who profit from packaging, shipping, displaying, advertising and re-selling agricultural goods.
As the oldest family business in New York State, The Orchards of Concklin now participates in a market that mirrors the way that goods were exchanged when they cultivated their first plot of land in Pomona in the 18th century. Chairwoman of the Rockland County Legislature, Harriet Cornell, appreciates the value of returning to some of the practices of our agrarian roots. In her keynote speech for the 300th anniversary of the Orchards of Concklin on July 4, 2012, Cornell said, “People want … to have their children learn first-hand that food comes from the earth around us and not from the supermarket.” If you want to know more about the source of your food, and meet the people who grow and prepare it, the Farmers’ Market in Nyack is now open 52 weeks a year.
Artist-in-Residence Exhibit, Nov. 29th at the Nyack Center at 11 am
The drawings in this week’s Nyack Sketch Log, along with 21 additional pieces created this market season, will be on display at the Nyack Center on the first day of the indoor market on Nov. 29th. There will be a reception at 11 am where the originals will be presented to the Nyack Library as a permanent loan where they will be on rotating display. I want to thank the Nyack Chamber of Commerce for creating the position of artist-in-residence for the Farmers’ Market, thereby acknowledging that art is one of the major crops sown from Nyack’s fertile creative soil.
This Nyack Sketch Log is dedicated to the memory of Mike Panzarella. Mike was an active participant in the market and a one time member of the Market’s Advisory Board. Panzarella’s remains a vital part of the Nyack Farmers’ Market and Mike will always be missed.
Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Year Round Farmers’ Market” © 2012 Bill Batson.