By Danny Schrafel
A summertime tradition of farm-fresh produce and foodie delights will return this weekend to Northport Village for its seventh summer season.
Starting at 8 a.m. this Saturday, a capacity group of 26 vendors will open up the Northport Farmer’s Market at the harbor, boasting the produce of three farms, bakers and purveyors of pickles, cashews, empanadas, fresh seafood, craft beer, nut butters, meats, yogurt and much, much more.
In fact, the three farms – Sang Lee, Island’s End and Wickham’s Fruit Farm – have been anchor tenants since the very beginning, co-coordinator Dorothy Walsh said.
The farmer’s market runs every Saturday morning, rain or shine, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., expect for Sept. 20 – the day of the Great Cow Harbor Race – and Oct. 18, when the Northport Fire Department will celebrate its 125th anniversary.
Walsh said that after paring down the number of vendors last year to 26, the market has found a sweet spot that successfully maintains a wide selection that draws shoppers to downtown, while keeping enough municipal parking free so as not to obstruct business.
“The residents love it. We have a very loyal clientele,” Walsh said. “We thought it would be good for the businesses downtown… [People] can walk around the village, see what the village has to offer, have lunch and check out the stores.”
New vendors this year include the Backyard Brine pickles, The Cashew Company, Eden Fresh Greek specialties and Imperial Empanadas.
Northport Deputy Mayor Henry Tobin, who championed the creation of the market as a new village board trustee eight years ago, said the idea came from friends. While it took about a year of work to get the support of local business leaders and the commitment from East End farmers to anchor the market, Tobin said it’s been well worth it, especially for the chance to help local businesses get off the ground and grow.
In early years, Mayor George Doll was a vendor at the market, essentially offering harborside office hours as he cleaned shellfish for customers. Although he is no longer a vendor, the tradition of the market serving as a community hub remains.
“It’s not just a source of good produce, but it turned into a civic center where people would meet people they knew but hadn’t seen recently, catch up on what’s going and talk,” Tobin said.
He cited the Island’s End farm as a prime example of the opportunities available to sellers.
“The market had become so important to them that they had changed their crop schedule around the farmer’s market,” Tobin said. “It’s fantastic that we’ve been able to breathe more life into this family farm.”