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Mar 18, 2009 1:34 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Some opposition to proposed farmers market in Southampton

Mar 18, 2009 1:34 PM

A plan to start a Sunday morning farmers’ market in Southampton Village is running into resistance from some local farmers, and from at least one local merchant.

Dennis Schmidt of Schmidt’s Market on North Sea Road in the village came before the Village Board on Thursday, March 12, to object to the idea. In an interview Friday, he said he might consult with an attorney if the village decides to push forward with the plan.

Village Board member Bonnie Cannon, who said she envisioned a farmers’ market as a way to bring residents together at the Parrish Art Museum grounds after church on Sundays and foster a sense of community, said she is arranging a meeting with Mr. Schmidt and others who have concerns over the plan. Officials at the Parrish, which is on village-owned property, said they favor the plan.

She said she reached out to Mr. Schmidt in the weeks before Thursday’s meeting and did not get a response, giving her no opportunity to talk with him and explain the drive behind the plan before he came to the Village Board meeting.

“I’ve spoken to all the farmers in the area,” Mr. Schmidt told the board. He said they are all opposed to the farmers’ market, fearing it would dilute business at existing markets and farm stands and benefit only North Fork or middle-island farmers.

Local farmers also do not have the staff to run a second farm stand in addition to their own farm stands, and he does not have the staff to spare from his store, Mr. Schmidt said. “Everybody’s stretched to the limit in the summer.”

Mr. Schmidt said it would also be redundant to have a store and then have a stand down the street at a farmers’ market as well. “I pay a lot of money to be in this village and sell produce,” he said.

Ms. Cannon said the farmers’ market would last only four hours, suggesting that it would not be as much of a burden as Mr. Schmidt is asserting.

“Four hours out of your week—it’s not gonna hurt anybody’s business … If anything, I think it helps,” Keith Kouris, the owner and baker at Blue Duck Bakery Café in the village, said on Monday. “I understand Dennis’s reservation, because, initially, unless you participate in them, you don’t see that community end of it. You just see competition.”

Blue Duck participates in the East Hampton, Westhampton and Sag Harbor farmers’ markets each summer. “It’s a great way for the business to be directly involved in the community on a one-to-one basis,” Mr. Kouris said. The farmers’ markets also typically include events for kids with animals and educational programs, he added.

“Dennis, this was never set up to hurt anybody,” Village Board member Nancy McGann told Mr. Schmidt at last week’s meeting. And it would be more than just produce, like fish, bread and jams, she said. “It’s really another form of advertising.”

Mr. Schmidt said he would likely not oppose the farmers’ market if it were open only to local farmers and merchants. But if it is open to North Fork farmers and growers from farther west, that would be a different story, he added.

“I often wonder who in government thinks up these schemes to undermine local businesses,” Joan and William Zaluski of Zaluski Farm in Water Mill wrote to Mayor Mark Epley last week. “We have no need for a farmers’ market. We have three local stores that sell produce, namely, Schmidt’s, Waldbaum’s and Catena’s. We also have local farm stands within a 2-mile or less radius. ... The local South Fork farmers are not going to contribute their produce as they have their own farm stands.”

From a shopper’s perspective, the more choice the better, said Vic Finalborgo, the owner of Catena’s Market, though he sympathized with Mr. Schmidt and others who carry produce. “It’s going to impact some stores more than others, but I think it will definitely be a loss across the board for all of us,” he said.

“In my case, produce is such a small part of my business,” Mr. Finalborgo said. “We’re mainly in the meat business, so I don’t know how it would really affect me.” Given the chance, he said he probably would participate in the farmers’ market, or at least scout it out for goods to add to his shelves.

“An awful lot of great stuff came from the North Fork that I wouldn’t have known about or been aware of if not for that farmers’ market in Westhampton,” he said, adding that a Southampton farmers’ market could bring some local cottage industries, like jelly or potato chip makers, to his and other shopkeepers’ attention.

Ms. Cannon told Mr. Schmidt that the Village Board needs to consider what the residents themselves want to see, and Ms. McGann cited a recent survey of residents, visitors and business owners that indicated 80 percent would like to see a farmers’ market. But board member Richard Yastrzemski pointed out that those results may have been different if they respondents knew the local farmers said they would not participate.

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I think a farmer's market is a great idea, although Saturday is a better day for it. My only fear: Village board member Paul Robinson wanting to charge me admission to boost the village coffers!

Also, Dennis Schmidt is the king of hyperbole!
By Agawam Yacht Club (61), Southampton on Mar 13, 09 5:33 PM
ooooh, not an attorney. heheheh. wow....the farmer's market is a fantastic idea...its about time. better for these folks to join 'em...rather that fight 'em. there is no reason they couldn't be there with a produce stand. god forbid someone compete against schmidts and the price of a lemon has to come down to under 2 bucks....everyone's invited.
By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on Mar 13, 09 5:41 PM
i think its a bad idea because i am a local farmer
By fdny7318 (60), Water Mill on Mar 13, 09 7:16 PM
Hey can't Southampton and other South Fork farmers go to other farmers markets up Island and on the North Fork?

Competition is good for the consumer. Bring on another farmers market!

By gordie howe (55), hockeytown usa on Mar 13, 09 10:13 PM
Farmer's market is a great idea. Fresh produce, competitive prices, a place to gather and spend time with your family. Having gone to college in Wisconsin, I had looked forward to their farmer's market every sunday morning. Instead of sleeping in, I got my a$$ out of bed and bought local produce and baked goods. I really hope this goes through, because you'll see me and my family there every Sunday!
By landarchi (33), Southampton on Mar 13, 09 11:08 PM
Village Board member Bonnie Cannon, who said she envisioned a farmers’ market as a way to bring residents together at the Parrish Art Museum grounds after church on Sundays and foster a sense of community.

So we need government to "help us socialize" with friends and neighbors?
When did this become the role of government?
Do we really need government to enter the business field?
Clear out the cobwebs in your head.
By Terry (380), Southampton on Mar 14, 09 8:57 AM
Terry, you may disagree with the idea, but there is no conspiracy here...and those in favor of it are not dumb, don't have cobwebs in their head or any other marginally clever zingers you may come up with. If you feel threatened by this well intentioned concept, you should feel free to illustrate why so that an intelligent dialogue might emerge.
By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on Mar 14, 09 9:31 AM
Dennis pretty much runs a deli/specialty food store now anyway. Produce is a small part of his business now. And an even smaller part of that business is local (grown on long island) produce.
By C Law (339), Water Mill on Mar 14, 09 12:50 PM
Another Farmers Market sounds like a GREAT idea !
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Mar 14, 09 4:08 PM
Good for consumers. Maybe the competition will allow us to save some money!
By fdp (23), southampton on Mar 14, 09 4:57 PM
I think the Farmers Market is an excellent idea!!!!
All the local farmers can sell their produce there, even Schmidt's can sell something too!!!!!
:-)
By Bel (86), southampton on Mar 14, 09 6:17 PM
It works well in Westhampton Beach and it works well in Riverhead. No one has a monopoly on food sales and the farmers and producers have a short enough growing season as it is. They need to sell as much as they can during the time when they can. And, regardless of the opinion of "Terry" the experience of shopping, meeting and talking with your neighbors in an open air environment is priceless.
By foodie (74), Remsenburg on Mar 15, 09 12:20 PM
My fear of the potential market, is not jams and bread, but rather booths that will not promote the idea of community,organic produce, and local goods. I fear that it will turn into a farmers market version of Jobs Lane: Overpriced and underwhelming to the average local, selling goods that are targeted to a specific type of person ( rich, city, what ever moniker you want to give them). Local produce and good bread, artisan crafts: YES. Overpriced bottles of Olive Oil: No.
By EastEndGrl (9), southampton on Mar 15, 09 4:29 PM
A little public education goes a long way. Tons of resources on how farmers markets benefit the community and generate additional economic activity are availalable on the NYS Farmers Market Federation website:
http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/publications.htm
and see also the NYS Farmers Market Nutrition Program which helps seniors on social security to buy fresh produce. http://www.agmkt.state.ny.us/AP/agservices/marketing.html.
By jm (17), Hampton Bays on Mar 16, 09 10:17 AM
classic... only in the hamptons could a community of FARMERS be opposed to a nice market in a heavily-trafficked area to help them sell more produce!
By littleplains (305), olde england on Mar 16, 09 12:29 PM
Farmers Markets are a great thing for the community. The problem lies with the no-compete rules some "Farmers markets" use. The WHB market has no-compete rules and keeps the Southampton farmers produce out. The farms who sell are North
Fork farms, which is not a problem but why not allow other farmers in?

Real Farmers Markets have many farms represented, most with similar produce & products. Why not require that Farmers Markets in Southampton allow the same?
No-compete rules are ...more
By G (325), Southampton on Mar 16, 09 1:19 PM
Funny... Out of 17 responces the only negative one is from a "local" Farmer. I wonder if the "Farmer" knows something about being a "Farmer" that someone who isn't a "Farmer" doesn't know anything about at all. I know when I have a question about fishing I ask my plumber...
By Soundview (89), Hampton bays on Mar 16, 09 5:11 PM
The prices at Schmidts are outrageous. It is only natural that they don't want any competition, it might provide a reality check. Just imagine an outdoor market with fresher produce, resonable prices and NOT having to deal with sullen cashiers. I'll buy that!
By Phanex (83), Southampton on Mar 16, 09 6:19 PM
I think the personnel at Schmidt's are mostly pleasant and friendly . . . except for Dennis. What a grump. Is his Porsche Carrera acting up? No wonder he wants less competition and higher prices
By rickyonmain (10), southampton on Mar 16, 09 10:34 PM
Soundview i have been a farmer all of my life.my father is a farmer,my grandfather and my great grandfather was a farmer and so on and so on.hmm so i wonder if i know how to farm.
By fdny7318 (60), Water Mill on Mar 17, 09 2:08 PM
It's called capitalism. If you can't compete, find another means of income. Then again, just have the government bail you out.
By WHBinManhattan (47), Manhattan/Westhampton on Mar 17, 09 5:54 PM
I think this is an awesome idea. It will bring folks into the village, which appears to be slowly dying (lots of empty stores). There's plenty of parking. Great competition to keep prices down. All "farmers" should be invited - North Fork as well. Isn't there even a garlic farm up there? I see nothing wrong with say inviting the folks that make goat cheese products or local wineries (after all, aren't their products made from "local" grapes?) or bakeries. And best of all, you won't have to ...more
By Ms. Jane Q. Public (147), Southampton on Mar 18, 09 9:33 AM
^ yes Jane Q Public, we wouldn't want you to have to interact with any of those 'of non european descent' type people. If 'they' could just all stay in Hampton Bays and Springs emerging once a week to mow our lawns and trim our hedges that would be beneficial to us all.
By C Law (339), Water Mill on Mar 18, 09 4:56 PM
A farmers' market in Southampton is an absolutely wonderful idea! Not only will it be able to pull much of our local produce (and maybe even baked goods and local seafood?) together in one happy place, but it might just heighten our sense of community! Hooray and many thanks to Bonnie Cannon and whoever else has worked on this proposal!
By SusieD (112), Southampton on Mar 18, 09 7:14 PM
I think the farmers market is a great idea as long as we keep it local . Only allowing farmers from the southfork to have the rights to sell . Mr. Schmidt has a right to oppose this situation. He is a great guy , and runs a successful business. As a year round resident I think we are fortunate enough to have a local business like Schmidts to supply us with fresh fruit all year round.
By catusjack (1), southampton on Mar 18, 09 10:12 PM
A farmers market at the Parish Art Museum......Wonder what class of people that is aimed at? Can't the phonies gather at one of their mansions? Will only church going people be allowed to attend? This will not be for the benfit of the average taxpayer but something else for the Southampton Blue Bloods to put on their calendars. What next, polo matches in the middle of main street?
By Walt (285), Southampton on Mar 18, 09 10:46 PM
no walt, the only one not welcome is you.
By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on Mar 19, 09 6:45 AM
Walt you're waaaay off base on this. The Parrish Museum happens to have a large lawn right in the center of town; its simply a logical choice along with Agawam Park.

The idea of being able to buy locally grown and harvested food in a community-oriented outdoor spot is a great one. I applaud Bonnie Cannon for the initiative.

And if Dennis Schmidt doesn't like it, maybe he could start carrying more locally produced items to sell the other 6 days of the week. More Long Island-based ...more
By Agawam Yacht Club (61), Southampton on Mar 19, 09 8:09 AM
A clarification for C Law's benefit: What I meant was, it would be nice to walk into a local store and ask for radicchio, or ask if the corn is local, and not get a dumb stare back. I believe one should be able to speak the language of the country they are living in and living off of. I should not have to learn another language just to buy a head of lettuce. The grounds of the Museum are perfect for this market. Perhaps Walt can add a little culture to his life while he's there.
By Ms. Jane Q. Public (147), Southampton on Mar 19, 09 9:50 AM
Ms. Jane Q,

Backtrack all you want, but your blatant racism is really shining through.

If you are unable to communicate with someone at a store, ask for the manager. If still don't get the results you desire, don't shop there anymore. It's pretty simple.

Guarantee if that was an Irish face giving you the 'dumb stare' instead of a brown face, you'd have different feelings.

Immigrants are here in this country, legally or not, so they can provide a better life for ...more
By RealLocal (76), Bridgehampton on Mar 19, 09 10:23 AM
Schmidt is afraid of losing dollars at his over-priced market. A farmer's market is a great way to promote a sense of community and to breathe some life into a village overrun by banks and real estate brokers.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Mar 19, 09 11:03 AM
Ms. Jane Q Public, the face of America is changing. Get used to it.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Mar 19, 09 11:06 AM
...half the population of the U.S. doesn't know what radicchio is, why single out those who can't speak English? But, I am bummed that you can't find yours.
By William Rodney (538), southampton on Mar 19, 09 2:07 PM
Wouldn't you like to have an interesting and fresh selection of greens, homemade baked goods, jams, fruits and vegetables that you can't find locally? Aren't you tired of the same old acorn squash? Whatever tickles your culinary fancy, you can generally find it at a Farmer's Market. It's a great place to "explore" for those whose minds allow. For the others, you're not going to sit hom anyway. After all, are the guys watching knitting classes on Channel 133 or watching March Madness. This ...more
By Dodger (156), Southampton Village on Mar 19, 09 3:19 PM
Hey William Rodney - LOL regarding the radicchio - you're probably right. Yet another reason for a farmer's market - educational value! In response to RealLocal: When my great grandparents came to this country, no one said, "Hey, the Smiths are here, but they only speak Italian, so let's everyone speak Italian so they can understand us. Oh, and here are the Jones, but they only speak French....no problem, we'll all start speaking French." And the reason for that was because in order to communicate, ...more
By Ms. Jane Q. Public (147), Southampton on Mar 20, 09 9:03 AM
Your grandparents came here and had to assimilate to this country, which means learning the language and the customs. Did that happen overnight?

It didn't in my family, we still speak an Italian/English combo when we're together, and my family has been here since 1920.

So, why in the world would you make the assumption that immigrants here now aren't doing the same thing as your grandparents? ie, learning the language and customs.

Furthermore, why do you think an immigrant ...more
By RealLocal (76), Bridgehampton on Mar 20, 09 9:37 AM
Its a great idea, but the vendors should be limited to east end businesses and farms only. Westhampton and out both forks. There is some great produce up on the North Fork, as well as some great imported gourmet produce in the South Fork stores. It would provide a good mix, bring in tourism dollars, and perhaps provide a way for local consumers to pay alittle less. Go for it!
By North Sea Citizen (528), North Sea on Mar 20, 09 9:42 AM
I agree in principle that the local farmers should be protected, but Dennis Schmidt is doing nothing to help their cause with his SELFISH comments. I could care less about Dennis Schimdty making any more money in my village.
By kuali (32), southampton on Mar 20, 09 1:20 PM
what's next-a flea market to undersell clothing botiques who pay high real estate taxes to keep this village and town afloat. Why not set up hot dog stands on every corner-lets say Tuesday- to challenge the hard work deli owners engage in every day.
Dennis Schmidt never said he was opposed to this concept. He simply wanted it to be a market for South Fork farmers instead of inviting farmers from all over who don't have the taxes and overhead that established business' like Schmidt need to pay.
By mexicokid (19), brooklyn on Mar 20, 09 1:38 PM
Being a true local farmer myself from southampton, I think this is a great idea to have a farmers market. Not only will it bring people together, it will help farmers advertise for their business. If someone goes to the farmers market and buys corn and really likes it, then they most likely will go to that farmers farm stand and buy some more. I do however agree with Dennis Schmidt that this farmers market should only be open to South Fork people only. The farmers market doesn't have to be for just ...more
By courtesy (43), Southampton on Mar 20, 09 2:25 PM
RealLocal: I think the word you're looking for is xenophobic, not racist. Look it up.

Mexicokid: I for one would LOVE to have hot dog stands on every corner. Then I wouldn't have to pay $11 for a sandwich at Gucci Deli (Job's Lane Deli).
By Agawam Yacht Club (61), Southampton on Mar 20, 09 5:21 PM
Frankly the farmers market is a good idea. If Southampton doesn't want it, bring it to Hampton Bays.
Maybe Schmidt's would rather have a few more supermarkets to compete with like we have in Hampton Bays.
By Bob Whyte (48), Hampton Bays on Mar 20, 09 10:29 PM
look, theres only like 5 functioning farms left on the south fork, and theyre all going to be paved over with hamptons mega-mc-mansions in the next five years anyway.

so, who cares what these few remaining farms think about the farm stand?

the only remaining viable farms are on the north fork, and they will supply the produce for the farmers market. Thats just the way it is.

if you want to help out the local southampton farms, the best way to do that is to either cut ...more
By nicole (96), Hampton Bays on Mar 23, 09 1:26 PM
You are incorrect Nicole! There are way more than 5 functioning farms left on the south fork. I happen to be a local farmer that owns a functioning farm. You cannot say that they all are going to be paved over with "hamptons mega-mc-mansions" (is that a mcdonals item) or whatever you call them. My farm will not go under to give into housing.

We should ALL care about preserving the remaining farms and what the farmers feel.

You want to know whats absurd? The fact that you are posting ...more
By courtesy (43), Southampton on Mar 24, 09 12:00 PM