Ask many of the farmers selling their products at Saratoga Farmers’ Market how long they’ve been vendors here, and it isn’t unusual to hear “Oh, 30 years or so” as the answer. During the months of May to October, the 37-year-old market meets on Saturday mornings and Wednesday evenings under the canopies of High Rock Park, just outside downtown Saratoga Springs. In order to keep things going during the harsh New York winter months, the market relocates to the nearby Lincoln Baths building, at Saratoga Spa State Park.
Vendors and customers have formed deep relationships with each other in this long-running market. Greetings are on a first-name basis. For new customers, farmers offer to personally pick the very best of their wares. This is the case at the Gomez Veggie Ville booth, now in their fifth year at the market. Their organically-grown goods come from a tiny 2½-acre family farm 18 miles away from the market. Most farmers drive to more than 35 miles to come here. Some, such as market veteran Dave Bowman of Malta Ridge Orchard and Gardens, has only six short miles to travel with his apples, cider donuts, eggs, corn and hearty greens to reach the market.
This hyper-local nature is precisely what drives the deep community support of the market. The farmers’ prices are unaffected by an agricultural crisis occurring halfway or across the country, be it bird flu or drought. Their prices then are comparable or cheaper than those found at a conventional grocery store for a fresher product of far higher quality. Or perhaps it is the ability to shop for every kind of nourishment at this one location, from organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed beef or pastured chicken, to locally-produced wine, beer and liquor, something impossible to do at a conventional New York state grocery store.
A recent transplant to Saratoga Springs, Minerva Orduño Rincón is a chef and freelance writer. Her work has been recently published in the Phoenix New Times. She is a native of Mexico, and writes about Mexican food and cooking at www.cucumbersandlimes.com.