Less than three weeks after the Riverhead Farmers Market kicked off on East Main Street, it’s already outgrown its space. By far.
“We have a waiting list of 60 vendors,” said Ray Pickersgill, president of the Business Improvement District, and one of the key organizers in the weekend market — along with Community Development Director Christine Kempner and Browder’s Birds proprietor Holly Browder.
Beyond looking for excess space, Mr. Pickersgill — co-owner of downtown’s Robert James Salon — said at Wednesday night’s BID meeting that right now, he’s hoping to extend the market with the help of the two.
“If we could continue it all year, there are enough farmers who are looking to do it,” Mr. Pickersgill said.
While the BID has hosted a farmers market in the past on Saturdays, Mr. Pickersgill said on Thursday that having Ms. Browder on board, as a member of the Long Island Farm Bureau, has been key in gaining momentum for this season’s winter market, which is expected to wrap up in mid-May.
The market got its legs after Ms. Kempner ran into her old neighbor, Ms. Browder. The poultry farmer told Ms. Kempner that the winter market she went to previously, in Sag Harbor, had shut down this season. Coordinating with Mr. Pickersgill, it didn’t take long until they got enough vendors to fill out a market in downtown Riverhead.
Held at 117 East Main St. each Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the market currently hosts 30 vendors in the 8,000-square-foot building downtown that previously housed Swezey’s department store.
The BID is paying $3,000 for 18 weeks in the current location. The building next to it, which was once Swezey’s, is owned by Eli Mizrahi, who is seeking $8,000, Mr. Pickersgill said, indicating that they can’t afford that.
Also at Wednesday night’s meeting, members of the BID management association said that — after first bringing the idea up in 2011 — they are still pursuing putting a skating rink downtown.
Mr. Pickersgill floated the idea of making the rink a pavilion, adding that sliding glass panels and heaters on the ceiling could be installed in the winter to host the farmers market
Two musicians. Twenty eight vendors. Hundreds of attendees. And at least a few thousand dollars worth in transactions. (more…)
Typically, these pages don’t include a lot of farming coverage in January and February. But over the past four weeks, with a little can-do attitude from some hard-working individuals, a winter farmers market was organized to touch down on East Main Street this winter. (more…)
The Riverhead Town Board unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday night co-sponsoring a new indoor farmers market that will open Feb. 1 in downtown Riverhead. The farmers market is being co-sponsored by the Business Improvement District Management Association, which has already approved $3,000 for the project.
The Town Board also voted to scheduling public hearings on a proposed new definition of “breezeway,” an issue that relates back to a controversy at the Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport, and on a proposal requiring pumpout facilities for new swimming pools near wetlands.
The board also accepted the retirement of longtime Police Detective Sergeant Joseph Loggia.
To read a recap of News-Review reporter Tim Gannon’s live blog of the meeting, click below.
An indoor farmers market appears headed for downtown Riverhead next month.
Ray Pickersgill, president of the Riverhead Business Improvement District, said a number of farmers have already committed to the market, which is slated to be in the former Swezey’s building on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for 16 weeks.
The Riverhead Town Board is expected to formally give its approval Wednesday. The BID Management Association gave its approval last Wednesday.
Mr. Pickersgill suggested the farmers market is a better value that Trader Joe’s, the popular health food store that some residents have been trying to attract to Riverhead.
“We have such a diversity of farmers. If you go to Trader Joe’s, you’re not going to find some of the stuff we have,” Mr. Pickersgill said in an interview. “We have a meat guy, we have an oyster guy, we have yogurt people, we have a guy who makes empanadas. We have everything covered. We actually have more vendors than we have room for.”
He said he’s hoping that if the market takes off, it can be expanded to more days or possibly year-round, since some farmers don’t have farmstands.
The target date to open is Feb. 1.
The eastern half of the Swezey’s building is owned by Riverhead Enterprises, which owns several buildings downtown, and the BID will lease the building from them for $3,000 for the 16 days. (The western, and main, half of the former Swezey’s store is owned by someone else.)
Many of the markets committed to joining in Riverhead used to participate in a farmers market in Sag Harbor, which isn’t taking place this year.
“Generally, there is an indoor winter farmers market somewhere on the End End, that ends before Memorial Day, when all of the outdoor markets open,” said Chris Kempner, who heads the town’s Community Development office.
Ms. Kempner said she spoke with Holly Browder of Browder’s Birds, a poultry farmer from Mattituck who had participated in the Sag Harbor market, and the idea came up to have one in downtown Riverhead.
“There’s considerable interest from all the vendors that participate,” Ms. Kempner said at Thursday’s Town Board work session.
She said Mr. Pickersgill suggested it be in one of the downtown buildings, and he began speaking with Riverhead Enterpise about 117 East Main, she said.
“I think it fits in with the whole East End tourism goal of promoting tourism past November,” Ms. Browder told the Town Board Thursday. “A lot of us small farmers need to make money year-round.”
She said many small farmers on the East End are committed to working year-round.
Vendors will pay a fee of either $150 for the full 16 weeks, $100 for 10 weeks or $25 per week to participate.
The Riverhead Farmers Market, as it’s being called, already has a Facebook site up, and that site had more than 440 “likes” in two days.
“We had the first meeting about this last Wednesday (Jan. 8) and it kind of took off like a freight train,” Ms. Kempner told the Town Board Thursday.
The Riverhead Town Board is scheduled discuss a proposal for an indoor farmers market at its work session on Thursday. The plan, proposed by the Business Improvement District, would run on Saturdays for 16 weeks beginning in February and would sell local products. The BID hopes to have it in the eastern half of the former Swezey’s building.
The board also has discussions planned on Go Blue, a cancer awareness program, a bike drive, ethics recommendations and a review of draft resolutions for the next regular Town Board meeting.
News-Review reporter Tim Gannon will be live blogging from the meeting, which starts at 10 a.m. Click below to follow or comment.
Riverhead Town officials are considering taking legal action against the owners of the Glass Greenhouse for illegally operating its newly built Farm Market, a 5,000-square foot, two-story building that features a full kitchen, office space, high ceilings with exposed beams, and an elevator.
A resolution discussed at Thursday’s town board work session, expected to be voted on next Tuesday, states that members have determined the property — located at 1350 Main Road in Jamesport — is in violation of various sections of the town and state code.
The Farm Market, which opened in October and held a grand opening two weeks ago, is currently operating with out a valid certificate of occupancy and outside of the town’s regulations for an agriculture operation, according to Supervisor Sean Walter.
“As much as some people want to believe it meets the town’s zoning, it doesn’t,” Mr. Walter said. “It doesn’t have site plan approval now and I don’t suspect it will get it, since it is not up to code.”
The Glass Greenhouse, which is owned and operated by Walter and Edith Gabrielsen, previously only sold plants and flowers. Three years ago they decided to expand to include a farmers market to sell a variety of fresh and prepackaged foods, manager Amanda Putnam told the Riverhead News-Review in October.
However, much of the products are shipped in from Vermont, Massachusetts and upstate New York, Ms. Putnam said. Moreover, less than 40 percent of the products are made using ingredients grown on site — a direct violation of town code, Mr. Walter said.
The decision to seek legal action against the Gabrielsens wasn’t done with haste, the supervisor said. Walter Gabrielsen’s brother, Councilman George Gabrielsen, said he has recused himself from the matter.
While the site plan has yet to be approved by the town or planning boards, the market was granted a temporary two-month-long certificate of occupancy on Oct. 4, Mr. Walter said.
Without site plan approval from the town, the market opened its doors after receiving a food-processing license from the state Agriculture & Markets Committee on Oct. 11.
Since, Mr. Walter said he has been attempting to contact both the Agriculture & Markets Committee and Farm Bureau president Joe Gergela to determine the town’s next course of action.
When the town’s temporary certificate of occupancy expired on Dec. 4, Mr. Walter said the town still didn’t have a clear plan on how to address the violations.
“It is really not agricultural production,” Councilman James Wooten said in a phone interview Thursday. “When you walk in there, you open your eyes and it’s like a King Kullen. That doesn’t quite make sense to me.”
This is not the first time the town has taken legal action against a business believed to be operating outside town code.
Similarly, in 2010, Riverhead Town took owners of the former A Taste of Country in Northville to court, claiming that its certificate of occupancy is for a farm stand, and that serving hot and cold food — which the business was doing at the time — was not permitted on the site.
Following a two-year court battle, a state Supreme Court judge ruled in favor of the town, according to an October 2012 Riverhead News-Review article.
To bring their operation into compliance, the owners are hoping to expand their business for a second time within the next six months, Mr. Wooten said Thursday. Discussions with the owners revealed the plan to create about 2,800 additional square feet in order to accommodate and sell more products being processed on site, Mr. Wooten said.
“For the most part we want to work with them,” Mr. Wooten said. “We want to encourage agritourism, but it has to comply with our town code.”
Walter Gabrielsen declined to comment on the resolution.
“I can’t get involved with that,” he said Thursday.
The Town Board is expected to decide if it will take legal action during its next regular session on Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m.