Niskayuna farmers’ market off table until 2019

The market would be similar to Schenectady's Green Market, pictured in 2015. (Gazette File Photo)The market would be similar to Schenectady's Green Market, pictured in 2015. (Gazette File Photo)

NISKAYUNA — There will be no farmers’ market in the town of Niskayuna this summer or fall.

Town officials said on Aug. 10 that they will seek input from the public — through a survey — to determine whether a market is needed.

“It looks like something we’re looking at for the spring,” said Town Board member Lisa Weber, who chairs the town’s Community Programs Committee.

During the Aug. 10 Community Programs Committee meeting, some Town Board members, a few residents and members of the Niskayuna Co-op Market board of directors decided to produce and circulate the survey.

Board member Denise Murphy McGraw will organize people who signed up to work on the survey.

“We’ll try to get that pulled together within the next week or 10 days, maybe get it out after Labor Day when people are paying attention again,” McGraw said. “We’ll have it up for a few weeks, cull the data — maybe just a simple 10 questions with an ‘anything more you want to add’ kind of thing.”

McGraw said Ben Wallach — who proposed the market earlier this year — will be consulted for the survey, which will be available online.

McGraw said she also favors hard copies being made available at places like Town Hall and maybe the co-op.

The Town Board in June voted to delay plans to establish the market, which was pitched for Saturdays on the Town Hall green space. An alternate day and place — Fridays at River Road Park — had also been discussed.

According to the Niskayuna Farmers Market Facebook page, the original plan was Fridays at Town Hall from noon to 4 p.m. Some residents complained the day and time were not convenient. There were also concerns a busy market could become a challenge for people visiting Town Hall on business.

Board members in July expressed hope a market could open in late summer or early fall, as crops such as corn and tomatoes become plentiful.

The Niskayuna Farmers Market Facebook Page apparently believes lettuce, tomatoes, radishes and other fresh foods will be available someplace on town grounds next year.

“Thank you for your continuing support,” read a statement posted on Aug. 8. “We will be opening May 2019 with both a weekday/weekend market featuring the finest local produce & products. Interested vendors, nonprofits & volunteers keep messaging us here.”

“We are moving forward with the regional farm to food project towards May 2019 opening,” Wallach said in a Facebook message to The Daily Gazette. “We thank the public and vendors for their tremendous support. We received three new vendors this week.”

Wallach also said the delays have not bothered him.

“No, it’s for the best,” he said in a Facebook message. “All the publicity generated has helped us get more vendor and community support.”

Lorene Zabin, a town resident and former deputy supervisor, asked if the town really needed a farmers’ market. Weber said four farmers’ markets currently operate within five miles of Niskayuna. Thirteen are located within a 10-mile radius.

Zabin said a market might better succeed as a single, annual gathering — such as the town’s annual spring Niska-Day or autumn’s annual Carrot Festival at Congregation Agudat Achim.

Zabin also said she prefers to buy her fresh foods at the co-op.

“They have great stuff; I go every week,” she said.

Sarah Bilofsky, a member of the co-op board, agreed.

“We operate like a farm market,” she said during the meeting.

“It’s still kind of a new idea,” co-op board member Chris Rooney said after the meeting. “We’re still not really sure the best way it fits into everything and how we can benefit from it and how we can help the town benefit. We’re still figuring that out.”

Town Supervisor Yasmine Syed said she is OK with the delay.

“I think we need to listen,” she said. “We need to deploy a survey. We need to figure out if there’s a true need. We can have all the ideas we want in the world, but can we execute them? And what is that going to mean for the town?”