Saturday, October 21, 2017

History of Ellenville Farmers' Market, 2001-2018


Set in open country on Route 209 between the Shawangunks and the Catskill mountains, the village of Ellenville is beautifully located in the Hudson Valley for a thriving farmers’ and crafts market.

Link to the Ellenville Farmers’ Market facebook group:

The idea of staging a farmers’ market in Ellenville is not new, but only since 2016 has a twenty two-week market season been prepared by a manager according to long-term planning and with full-time dedication.

Our farmers' market serves the interests of local residents and vendors, while helping to support all members of our local business community. Visitors to this beautiful region enjoy numerous cultural attractions in and around Ellenville, and the recent reintroduction of a farmers’ market here has been universally welcomed.

Witch’s Hole, above Ellenville (cliff view)       © Steve Aaron Photography

2018 Season
The 2018 Ellenville Farmers’ Market season is running every Sunday for 22 weeks:
Sunday June 3 - Sunday October 28 ...... 12 noon - 4pm

Our 12 noon to 4pm opening time allows church-goers to join us at the farmers' market after Sunday services.

Local farmers and growers are supplying us every Sunday with twenty varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables. Our fruit and veg prices are lower than ShopRite! Come along early for the best selection of local produce.

Benefits to local farmers and crafts people from participating as vendors at Ellenville Farmers’ Market include the generation of additional income, securing an alternate marketing channel, the ability to capture a greater share of the consumer’s dollar, and business expansion through diversification and season extension. For the farming community, benefits include more land being farmed, more support for agricultural service suppliers, and new enterprises emerging or spinning off, creating more job opportunities on farms.

Ellenville Farmers’ Market participates in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), and this is great news for Seniors and Young Families. Make a call to pick up your FMNP checks, and exchange them for groceries:

Seniors checks ($20): 845-340-3456
Young Families (WIC) checks ($24): 845-340-3965

Given that farmers' markets are a great source of fresh fruits and vegetables, and other healthy foods; we are working during our 2017-18 inter-season to expand access to such food in 2018 at Ellenville Farmers' Market for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants.

At the close of our market days, unsold fruits and vegetables are collected by Rondout Valley Food Pantry. The food pantry minimizes wastage by distributing fresh local produce next day to low-income local residents.

New vendors are welcome to join us at Ellenville Farmers' Market, 2018.

We're particularly looking for:
Crafts - Food to go - Dairy - Meats - Baked goods - Other foods - Body products - Clothing - Organizers of Events and Entertainments

Events are a fun addition to any farmers’ market. Whether focused on entertainment or education, and whether geared toward children or adults, events bring people into the market with the anticipation of a family-friendly experience. Musicians and street performers are also invited along to market days, and we are particularly interested to hear from aspiring young artistes who would enjoy a great opportunity to gain experience and confidence from performing at a public event.

Vendor fee: $25 per day
Fee includes free parking and general liability insurance cover.

It's free for community-based organizations to come along on market days.

10ft x 10ft booth provided by yourself, suitable for an outdoor market.

For further information, please feel free to contact Ellenville Farmers’ Market manager, John Clark, by email:

Follow all the latest news on our 2018 season by visiting the Ellenville Farmers’ Market facebook group:

2017 Season
Having successfully completed our twenty-week re-launch season in 2016, our 2016-17 inter-season work focused upon achieving the next step in our strategy to establish this farmers' market as a truly community-benefiting resource: petitioning New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to authorize Ellenville Farmers' Market as a participant in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP).

The FMNP exists in order that low-income people may exchange Federally-issued FMNP checks for health-benefiting groceries at farmers' markets. With so many low-income Seniors and Young Families in Ellenville, and with nowhere else in Ellenville for people to buy fresh produce, Ellenville Farmers' Market had to be FMNP-approved if we were to optimally serve our local community.

Our inter-season work had set up Ellenville Farmers' Market as satisfying all but one of the criteria required for FMNP authorization: as a new (re-launched) farmers' market we were not sufficiently established to guarantee the attendance of at least two local FMNP-authorized farms every Sunday of our 22-week season in 2017.

John sought the discretion of New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to approve Ellenville's FMNP participation on the basis that two local FMNP-authorized farms had come forward with commitments to supply their produce each and every week of our 2017 season. By running a fruits and vegetables stall on behalf of the suppliers for 22 consecutive farmers' market events in 2017, our own produce-knowledgeable volunteers would honor the required farm-to-community element of this farmers' market.

Although our initial request for FMNP authorization was rejected, John persevered by presenting to New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets a stronger petition with the written backing of eight advocates: New York's 19th Congressional District, Ulster County Executive, Ulster County Departments of Health and Mental Health, Cornell Cooperative Extension (Ulster County), Town of Wawarsing, Village of Ellenville, Ellenville-Wawarsing Chamber of Commerce, and Ulster County Tourism.

This time our petition was successful, and Ellenville Farmers' Market received FMNP authorization for our 2017 season. In partnership with Ulster County's Health Department and various community-based organizations, John then set to work on a campaign to raise awareness among local low-income Seniors and Young Families of the FMNP-authorized status of Ellenville Farmers' Market, and how local people would benefit from this.

Although we lost our 2016 sponsor, Green Mountain Energy Co, we managed to successfully stage our 2017 season with virtually no funding. 2017 donations totaled only $266, which covered the cost of printing 2,000 FMNP-promoting fliers, and only a portion of our costs in providing season-long general liability insurance for the farmers' market site. Our 2017-18 inter-season work involved tendering for much-needed sponsorship.

The success of 2017 farmers' market days in Ellenville was based on a nucleus of six ever-present vendors:
Micah and Ruby's Dancing Treasures

It was a pleasure to host a nice selection of occasional daily foods and crafts vendors in 2017, including:
Gilson's Native American Crafts
Purring Tiger
Kathi's Gel Candles
Udder Ideas Fudge
Otsdawa Creek Candles
Clagg Cattle Co
Helen’s Handknits

Community-based organizations were also very welcome contributors to 2017 market days in Ellenville:
Cornell Cooperative Extension (Nutrition Education)
Maternal Infant Services Network (MISN)
Ulster County Foster Parents
Rondout Valley Food Pantry

At the close of our market days, the surplus of unsold fruits and vegetables was collected by Rondout Valley Food Pantry. In this way, the food pantry minimized wastage of perfectly good, fresh food, as they helped to improve nutrition among low-income local residents by distributing the still-fresh local produce next day.

Enjoy with us a selection of photographs taken during our 2017 farmers' market season (click to enlarge)


2016 Season
Ellenville Farmers' Market was forced to close down for the three years 2013, 2014 and 2015, as no credible management team had come forward to resume market operations here. However, encouraged by the work of the "Ellenville Garden Village" project, in 2015 the market site's owner, the Village of Ellenville, had appointed the project's coordinator, John Clark, to manage a 2016 re-launch for Ellenville Farmers' Market.

John's prime requirement of the Village of Ellenville was for their patience. Having consulted for some months with managers of other farmers' markets across New York State, it was evident to John that the task of firmly establishing annual market seasons in Ellenville would require persistence according to a five-year plan.

The Village of Ellenville shared John's vision that an annual 12- to 15-vendor, five-month season of weekly village events of family fun, giving access to locally-grown fruits and vegetables and locally-made craft pieces, was feasible for Ellenville by the year 2020. In the meantime, however, it would be vital that nobody should be disheartened by relatively low vendor and customer numbers on market days, as it would take a few seasons for local residents to gradually embrace the Sunday market events into their shopping routine. We're confident that through sheer persistence our farmers’ market will, by 2020, successfully serve to reconnect community members in a safe and friendly public setting, so creating a new sense of community for Ellenville.

A central focus for village life had been dearly missed in the three-year absence of the weekly markets, while Ellenville’s business district was primed to embrace the vitality of these enjoyable market events, particularly as visitors to the village would be drawn to the unique shopping experience that we could offer here once again.

Preparations for the 2016 re-launch season deemed Sunday as the optimal market day in Ellenville, given that:
(i) The village enjoys a summer influx of people of the Jewish faith
(ii) Kingston’s Saturday farmers’ market represents the main local competition
(iii) The region’s crafts fairs tend to operate on Saturdays too

Ellenville Farmers’ Market was re-launched in 2016 for a twenty-week Sunday season:
June 19, 2016 - October 30, 2016 ...... 10am - 2pm

An eight-strong steering committee of respected local people came together to back John as he prepared a well-considered, five-year regenerative program to create through the village farmers' market a long-term focus for wide-reaching community benefit in and around Ellenville.

The steering group was also supported in a non-committee advisory capacity by Ulster County Executive’s Department of Economic Development, encouraging aspiring young retailers to start their businesses at the market. Once established and competent in business management, these young people may spin off into storefronts or catering; creating jobs and contributing to the local economy and to cultural and societal uplift.

John had also worked with Mayor Kaplan to devise a six-aim Mission for Ellenville Farmers’ Market to:

1. Support local farmers by providing a viable outlet to sell their product

2. Strengthen the local economy by providing a friendly venue for local consumers and tourists to purchase goods directly from local farmers and crafts people

3. Preserve small scale farmers by providing a direct connection with consumers that builds relationships with the local farming community

4. Enhance the quality of life of local families through nutrition education and the promotion of organic and naturally grown foods

5. Act as a showcase to enrich the cultural heritage of the local community

6. Provide a working setting to teach entrepreneurship skills to local young people

John’s preparations to re-open Ellenville Farmers’ Market had established good professional relationships and partnerships, giving useful insight into the people, the business community and the government of Ellenville, and knowledge of the strategies that other farmers’ markets apply to safeguard against failure. Common to all well-established farmers' markets are programs, policies, and procedures concerning quality and conduct that are carried out with integrity to win the customers’ confidence and trust, thereby helping to build a loyal and growing customer base. Providing a clean, safe, friendly, courteous, and professional environment is therefore John’s basis for launching any customer service program or strategy for Ellenville Farmers’ Market.

Learning of plans to re-launch the farmers' market in Ellenville, Green Mountain Energy Company contacted John with a proposal to provide sponsorship for the 2016 season. Feeling satisfied with this farmers' market's management policies and strategy, a sponsorship package was agreed upon by Green Mountain Energy, and John was able to more comfortably set in place essential preparations for a successful re-launch season.

In welcoming selected local farmers and crafts people as vendors, John reached out open-mindedly for their experienced advice in order that a sensible structure for sustainable market operation could be formulated and applied specifically to meet the vendors' and Ellenville's particular needs. Although cautious to engage again with Ellenville (following disappointing experiences with the farmers' market's previous management), farmers and crafts people were sufficiently reassured to receive John's support and understanding that they began to commit in encouraging numbers to the first few weeks of this re-launched farmers' market season.

The return of Ellenville Farmers' Market had been promoted nicely among our local public media, support was very encouraging through social media, we had a great sponsor in Green mountain Energy (all necessary costs required to stage a twenty-week season were therefore covered), entertainments and events were planned for July, August and September, a wonderful variety of twelve and then fifteen vendors had pledged to attend our first and second weeks respectively, and the sun was shining gloriously upon Ellenville in June, 2016.

Opening day at Ellenville Farmers' Market, 2016, with a dozen first-rate vendors

Farmers’ market success centers upon achievement of equilibrium between the three 'interests: (i) developers (the Village of Ellenville, owner of the market site), (ii) vendors, and (iii) consumers. Given that causality runs from the 'sovereign' consumer, sustainable success for the three interests of this paradigm necessarily requires that local residents and visitors to the village purchase provisions of healthy food (plus other locally-produced goods) at the farmers’ market rather than through the corporate alternatives. In this way, vendors will find their receipts rising and will loyally attend the weekly events, the size and the frequency of market accommodation will increase long-term, and the village will have a regenerative focus through its farmers' market.

Customer numbers were around 200 for each of the two market days of June, 2016; sufficient foot traffic to support perhaps six vendors. Although our dozen+ vendors were keen to return, the pragmatism of business dictated that most necessarily had to make guaranteed profitable use of their summer Sundays by attending established events as priority over the uncertainty of hanging tough through Ellenville's re-launch season.

Week 3 of our 2016 season saw only six vendors, including that both our local fruits and vegetables vendors were "no-shows", with neither having informed us in advance that they would be canceling. A frantic ninety minutes ensued, as John and his wife, Kathy, called several local growers in an effort to organize a supply of produce for this Sunday farmers' market. Davenport Farms of Stone Ridge saved the day, and a very nice selection of fresh, locally-grown produce was immediately forthcoming. Although completely unplanned, it transpired that in order to guarantee that local fruits and vegetables would be available throughout the 2016 season at Ellenville Farmers' Market John and Kathy ran a weekly stall on behalf of Davenport Farms. This arrangement would continue on a formal, FMNP-authorized basis for our 2017 season.

Kathy and John running a fruits and vegetables stall for Davenport Farms

Vendor numbers would average seven across Ellenville's 2016 farmers' market season, with four ever-presents and a handful of different occasional daily vendors providing a reasonable variety of locally-grown and locally-made goods for an average 200 market day customers. Mid July through early September proved our peak period, as repeat local customers picked up their week's supply of fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables, and summer visitors dropped by to check out the farmers' market as part of their weekend trip, enjoying a hike in the Shawangunks, dining at Ellenville's restaurants and taking in a play at the Shadowland Theatre.

A concert by local folk band, Madarka, proved a highlight of our 2016 season

Ellenville Farmers' Market therefore made it through our 2016 re-launch season (representing an achievement in itself that some had doubted). Spirits were buoyant and much was learned from the overall experience, and, with the Village of Ellenville very happy to retain John as its farmers' market manager, inter-season planning for an improved 22-week 2017 season were accordingly set in place. Our first inter-season plan was to stage a six-week season of Ellenville Holiday Markets in November and December 2016 (for more information about other market initiatives in Ellenville see our "FUTURE ELLENVILLE MARKETS" page).

Enjoy with us a selection of photographs taken during our 2016 farmers' market season (click to enlarge)


History of Ellenville Farmers’ Market: 2001 - 2007
A group of horticulturalists combined part-time to set up a small farmers’ market here in 2001. However, even though they had received a $70,000 start-up grant, the initiative struggled over a five-year period to retain vendors in viable number, and preparations for the 2006 and 2007 market seasons were abandoned.

History of Ellenville Farmers’ Market: 2008 - 2015
A second management team re-launched market trading in Ellenville in 2008, achieving a faithful local support. The facebook group at that time summarized the intentions of the weekly farmers' market events here:

“Open rain or shine, the Ellenville Farmers' Market is a small, family friendly market in the heart of Ellenville, featuring fresh locally grown produce and regional products from Hudson Valley growers.”


Division among that team regarding operational strategy contributed to the market’s deterioration during the 2012 season. The management team fell apart and Ellenville Farmers’ Market closed for the next three years.

History of Ellenville Farmers’ Market: 2015
Noting the community-building vision of the “Ellenville Garden Village” project, in the spring of 2015 Mayor of Ellenville, Jeffrey Kaplan, invited now-local vegetable grower John Clark to manage a fresh start for Ellenville Farmers’ Market. The Village of Ellenville’s Board of Trustees added its unanimous backing to John, feeling that his skill set and collaborative approach would lead the farmers’ market to long-term stability.

John was appointed Ellenville Farmers’ Market Manager in April, 2015, and a July, 2015 re-launch date was targeted, according to the principle “something is better than nothing”. The ambitiously imminent target had been set in the hope that vendor and customer numbers would build over the course of the 15-week season.

With the previous management team proving reluctant to share advice, John took guidance from the Farmers’ Market Federation of New York (FMFNY) in a ten-week effort to reopen Ellenville Farmers’ Market.

Finding farmers and crafts vendors to offer customers the level of diversity they expect and desire is perhaps the market manager’s biggest initial challenge. Therefore, in consultation with producer associations and a number of FMFNY members, John identified product needs for the Ellenville customer base, sent invitations to selected prospective vendors, and created a set of FMFNY-based Market Rules and a Market Mission.

The 2015 season was then promoted through local public media, and John displayed posters and distributed fliers around the village. Various entertainments and events were planned, and the necessary insurance and emergency services prerequisites were approved.

With all other fundamental preparations satisfied by late June, 2015, it was evident that the May-June vendor recruitment campaign had come too late in the season. Virtually all interested parties had either committed months earlier to other farmers’ markets or crafts fairs, or were receiving insufficient notice to produce the additional goods necessary to justify their commitment to running another market stall.

On the eve of the Ellenville Farmers’ Market 2015 re-launch, with only six vendors confirming participation, John met with the Village of Ellenville to evaluate the wisdom of the market’s “something is better than nothing” approach. A decision was taken to postpone the market’s return to 2016, thereby affording all concerned sufficient time in which to prepare, with a sound foundation, for a re-launch season of first-rate events.

John was thanked for his efforts in attempting to accomplish a near-impossible mission and retained as Manager of Ellenville Farmers’ Market, and the resources of the Village of Ellenville were pledged to John according to a more effective framework of support.

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