Annual community dinner focuses on Hudson Valley foods
By Michael Turton
In its short, 10-year history, the Cold Spring Farmers’ Market has become a treasured community resource, one that supports farming in the Hudson Valley while providing local residents not only with fresh, regional foods but also an important social gathering place every Saturday morning from late May through most of November.
CSFM celebrated that 10th anniversary on Sept. 12 (Wednesday) at its annual community dinner. The Garrison again hosted the event as it has each year, contributing its facilities, staff and chefs as a way of supporting the market. The dinner, which began simply as a party to bring customers and vendors together at a season-ending feast, has become an important fundraiser, one that helps sustain the market throughout the year.
The dinner exudes support for the market and its vendors’ produce. Alison Anthoine has lived in Cold Spring for only two years, but she is already a true believer. This was her second CSFM dinner. “I go to the market religiously every Saturday. It’s my mainstay,” she said. Among her purchases early this season were 12 heritage-variety tomato plants. “I bought sun golds, green zebras, and mortgage busters. They’re 7 feet tall! I’ve had a robust harvest,” Anthoine said.
Jay Armour operates Four Winds Farm in Gardiner, N.Y., along with his wife Polly. They grew the tomatoes that so impressed Anthoine. The Armours, who were among CSFM’s original vendors, rarely miss the annual dinner and are among the market’s most vocal supporters.
“What I think about a lot is how our farm has grown along with the market. We grow an acre of tomatoes now — we used to grow only a fifth of an acre,” Armour said. “It’s been a wonderful experience. It’s been unbelievable. The customer loyalty here in Cold Spring is phenomenal. I always know I will sell out here.”
Shelley Boris was one of CSFM’s early organizers and served as chair of the market’s steering committee. She also helped shepherd several of the first community dinners. Her business, Fresh Company, a full-service caterer that uses many Hudson Valley agricultural products, is now a vendor at the market. “I look around the room and see familiar faces and people who are new to the dinner. It’s all we wanted it to be — a great coming together,” Boris said of this year’s dinner.
That convergence has both economic and social value according to Abbie Carey, co-chair of the CSFM board along with Liisa McCloy-Kelley. “It’s very important to help (local) businesses grow … and it really brings the community together,” she said.
This was a pivotal year for CSFM as it moved to Boscobel on Route 9D between Cold Spring and Garrison. Steve Bates, who manages CSFM along with Lachele Coninx-Wiley, feels that the move to Boscobel was a big plus, allowing the market to focus on its mission without what he called logistical distractions. “If we get 100 cars now, we have a field for overflow parking,” he said.
The market had previously been held at the Butterfield Hospital site and prior to that at The Nest Child Care Center across from the Foodtown plaza. Parking, traffic congestion and pedestrian safety were sometimes raised as concerns at the former locations.
McCloy-Kelley agrees that the move down Route 9D has been a great success. “We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of customers … about 500 people per week,” she said. “And they are pretty equally split between Cold Spring and Garrison.” She and her fellow market organizers hope they will be staying put for the market’s outdoor season.
“I hope we will be back at Boscobel next year,” she said. “We would also like to see some sort of accommodation with (the) Butterfield (site) for the winter market.” Currently the winter market is held at the Philipstown Recreation Center in Garrison. In terms of new vendors, McCloy-Kelley said the market hopes to add a vendor that produces fresh foods using hydroponics next year.