It took some persuading to get North Chili market vendors Roger and June Rouse of Bergen from behind their display of vegetables long enough to get their photograph.

Evelyn Pengelly from Watt Farms brings lots of fresh fruits to market day in North Chili.

John and Lucy Masco, Adams Basin residents, look at a variety of fruit from vendor Terri Penna, from Penna's Farm Market in Holley.

Jeff Partyka, owner of the Partyka Farms in Kendall, sells a container of yellow string beans to Lori Skoog, a Brockport resident. He reported that the crops are looking good, owing to the recent rains. The Partykas also participate in the North Chili market on Saturdays and are at a farmer's in Batavia on a week day.

Area farm markets offer season's fresh and flavorful bounties

There's a lot to like about farmers markets: fresh local fruit and vegetables picked at the peak of perfection; colorful cut flowers to add brilliance to the summer table; baked goods and gourmet pastries and coffees. Now that summer is in full-swing, it's a great time to check out all that local farmers markets have to offer.

Known to many as "the church with the farmers market," the North Chili United Methodist Church at 2200 Westside Drive in North Chili has run its market for 31 years. Assistant Market Master Jim Miller said the market is held on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. from late June through the last Saturday in October.

Miller said Methodists believe in service to the community and the farmers market provides, "a service for our neighbors."

"It's not a big market," Miller said, "but it's a nice, friendly, laid-back place to come and shop and talk to folks."

Miller did a survey last year of vendors and customers and received a very positive response. He said many customers and vendors have been coming since the market began and many dedicated vendors even say their farms and businesses will continue to have a stand at the market into the future.

Lora Partyka of Partyka Farms in Kendall has been bringing farm fresh fruit and sweet corn to the North Chili market for 19 years. She said that despite the dry conditions, this has been a good growing season. The heat helps to increase the sugar content of fruits, "making them sweeter," Partyka said.

Partyka said the sweet corn is ready and other popular items at their stand include cherries, raspberries and peaches. All the produce she sells is from their own farm and is picked fresh. "We do the picking, washing and packing the day before the market," Partyka said.

Roger Rouse of Honqualac Haven in Bergen is another one of the 17 vendors at the North Chili Market. He grows lettuce, a variety of salad greens, chard, leeks, peppers, tomatoes and cut flowers for the market. "Beets are surprisingly popular," he said. Tomatoes include the standard varieties as well as cocktail size ones like grape tomatoes and new kinds in several sizes.

Rouse said the hot, dry growing conditions this year have affected his crops. "Some aspects of dry conditions are great," he said. "Heat reduces disease," for example. But with a lack of water, "you don't quite get the crop you want, it may speed up or slow down a particular crop," he said. High temperatures make crops like lettuce go to seed more quickly, Rouse said.

Rouse said he and his wife, June, do all the harvesting and market day preparations themselves. "Everything is fresh picked," he said.

He also explained the unusual name of his farm. He said his wife likes to keep geese, ducks and chickens and also enjoys word plays. Honqualac is a combination of the sounds those birds make: honk, quack, and cluck. He said customers may have a hard time pronouncing it at first, but they don't forget it.

In Brockport, the farmers market is now in its fourth year and held Sundays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Market Street in the village, from Father's Day through the last Sunday in October.

Carrie Maziarz worked to get the market started five years ago when she approached the village's economic developer about the idea. Maziarz said she did a market analysis and a community survey and got a "tremendous response."

According to Maziarz, the village is very quiet in the summer when college students are gone and she saw a farmers market as a "tool for economic development." It has worked. Maziarz said the farmers market has resulted in downtown businesses changing their hours to open earlier on Sundays and businesses that were once closed on Sundays are now open to serve market patrons.

Special events are also planned at the market, Maziarz said. A strawberry social is held early in the season and in October the "Dia de los Muertos," or Mexican Day of the Dead, is celebrated in conjunction with the migrant ministry.

Last year, the Brockport Farmers Market ran television commercials to promote itself. This year there are no TV commercials Maziarz said, but the market is promoting itself in other ways. There are new flagpole banners downtown and the market sells canvas bags. "People absolutely love them," Maziarz said. So much so, that she may have to order another batch because they have been selling so fast.

Each week, a canvas market bag filled with goodies and produce from the market is raffled-off, Maziarz said. The raffle has been very well received, she said. The market also accepts coupons from the NYS Department of Agriculture's Farmers Market Nutrition Program as well as coupons from the senior vouchers program, Maziarz said.

The Brockport Farmers Market includes seven produce growers, a cut-flower grower joining the market later in the season, two bakeries, a coffee merchant and a sausage maker.

Whittier Fruit Farm is one of the Brockport market's vendors and Sandy Casamento, a market manager for Whittier Farms, is at the market each week. She said the heat has things coming on quickly. "The raspberries are coming on so fast we can't keep up with them," she said.

Because of dry conditions, Casamento said the farm workers have been irrigating crops. Trucks are loaded early on market day with such popular items as blueberries, raspberries and cherries, Casamento explained. Casamento said apples are the farm's biggest crop and are always popular later in the season.

Casamento had high praise for Brockport market manager Carrie Maziarz. "She does one heck of a job," Casamento said. Casamento also commended Maziarz for the work she does to plan special activities that help draw people to the market all season.

Joe Heberle of Heberle Farms in Hamlin is another Brockport vendor. He said he has spent a lot of time this season laying pipe for irrigation, although rain during the week of July 9 and since then really helped the crops a lot. He said the warm weather helps the produce taste better.

Heberle said he likes the fact that the Brockport market is held on Sunday. He travels to the market at Greece Ridge Mall on Saturday, but didn't have anywhere to set up a stand on Sunday until the Brockport market opened up.

Popular items at the Heberle stand include raspberries, sweet cherries, and blueberries. Sweet corn is now ready and Heberle expects early peaches to be ready July 22. He also sells tomatoes which he said should be ready soon.

The Heberle family grows all the produce they sell and Heberle said, "It takes quite a bit of work to get it all ready." All the produce is harvested fresh just before market day.

Farmers markets are very important to local growers, Heberle said, because they offer growers an opportunity to get some cash flow at this time of year.

Residents in the Hamlin area take note: you will have a farmers market in your town soon. Town Clerk Kathi Rickman said the town board approved rules and regulations for a farmers market at their meeting July 9. She said the town is now actively seeking farmers and growers who are interested in becoming vendors, if not for this season, then for next year.

North Chili Vendors
Creekside Bakery - Ovid
Domoy Farms - Oakfield
Haberger Farms - Hilton
Honqualac Haven - Bergen
Olsen Farms - Elba
Partyka Farms - Kendall
Penna Farms - Holley
Robb Farms - Spencerport
S and T Farms - Holley
Watt Farm - Albion
Whittier Farms - North Chili
Brian's Kitchen - Hilton
Renkos Meat Processing - Kendall
V and D Farms - Rochester
Lori Bowers - Bergen
Greg'ry's - Bergen
Melody's Candles - Rochester

Brockport Farmers Market Vendors
Whittier Fruit Farms - North Chili
Partyka Farms - Kendall
Lehigh Farms - Newark
Penna Farms - Holley
Heberle Farms - Hamlin
Frank Long - Holley
Kevin DeConinck - Spencerport
Greg'ry's - Bergen
Java Junction - Brockport
Renkos Meat Processing - Kendall

© July 22, 2007 - Westside News Inc.