In a place where the winters are long and the soils thin, Saranac Lake area farmers keep the communities fed year-round. By hosting two farmers markets — one outdoor in the warm months and an indoor market in the winter — the Saranac Lake Farmers Market ensures that locals and visitors eat and drink well.
With summer in full swing, the Farmers Market takes over Riverside Park in downtown Saranac Lake every Saturday morning. And while there have been some changes this year, the market — and it’s farmers, cooks, artisans, and brewers — is once again home to beautiful and delicious goods.
The Saranac Lake Farmers Market is paired with the nearby weekday market in Lake Placid, so the two draw farmers, crafters, cooks, and artisans from a wide area. And while some vendors are still waiting for the go-ahead to join as coronavirus restrictions ease, organizers say the shoppers are thrilled to be back at the market.
“People have been really good about coming in and getting in, getting out,” Jacob Vennie-Volrath, co-owner of both Moonstone Farm and Forest and the ADK Noodle Company, said. “Everybody has been really thoughtful in terms of waiting in line. People have been really understanding and following the procedures.”
In addition to maintaining social distancing and vendors and customers wearing masks, the market — which wraps around Riverside Park on Lake Flower — is now one-way. Vennie-Volrath said that’s been a good change, since people pass all the vendors now.
“This one-way setup also allows folks to get to a part of the market that they might not usually go to,” he said. “Some people come in and they’re ‘I gotta go to this vendor, I’ve got to go to this vendor,’ and then they’re gone. So this actually encourages folks to have that whole experience. They get around, they see all the products.”
Vennie-Volrath said that as restrictions ease, more vendors — including artists, jewelry makers, and furniture builders — will be returning to the market as well. As a “producer-only” market, everything for sale was made or grown by the vendor. You won’t find mass-produced knickknacks here. What you will find are the people who grew or cooked your food or who made the necklace or beer. You’ll also find that they’re friendly and happy to talk about their craft.
As the market draws hundreds of shoppers each week, Vennie-Volrath said the ultimate goal is for the vendors to become so successful that they don’t need the Farmers Market to survive.
“This is where we want all our farmers to eventually get,” he said. “To get to a point where they’re doing so much business outside of the Farmers Market that it’s no longer worth their while to come here. We see the Farmers Market as a starting point for a lot of small businesses.”
Vennie-Volrath said that while many long-standing customer favorites are back at the market, the slowdown for businesses has brought in some new vendors - notably Bloomingdale’s Hex and Hop brewery and Tupper Lake’s Raquette River Brewing, as well as Old Mountain Coffee. With fruits and vegetables, prepared and cooked food, and beer and liquor, one could easily find everything needed for numerous perfect meals at the market.
Locals and visitors alike can find the Saranac Lake Farmers Market every Saturday at Riverside Park right downtown from now through October. Senior shopping hour is from 9 to 10 a.m. and everyone is welcome (with a mask) from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.