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Sep 16, 2009 12:59 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village farmers market a growing success

Sep 16, 2009 12:59 PM

Blood orange-infused olive oil, loaves of crispy bread and pungent gourmet cheese were just a few of the food products for sale at last Sunday’s Southampton Village Farmers Market, and the event organizers are hoping the selections—and the market itself—continue expanding into a much larger attraction.

Sunday’s market, held in the municipal parking lot behind the Parrish Art Museum, was the third held so far in Southampton Village. The first two, held on August 30 and September 6, reportedly drew crowds of more than 400 people each. The third drew a smaller group of shoppers, only about 200, according to Southampton Village Trustee Bonnie Cannon, who was instrumental in organizing the farmers markets.

Trustee Nancy McGann said the decline in attendance was likely due to the fact that the summer season officially ended a week earlier and the days following Labor Day are traditionally very quiet on the East End.

Despite the smaller turnout on Sunday, Ms. Cannon and Ms. McGann said they expect the farmers market to last well into the fall.

“There will be great root vegetables and pumpkins,” Ms. McGann said Sunday, as she oversaw the seven local farmers and vendors who made up the market.

Next year, Ms. Cannon hopes that she will be able to start the market as early as June, and added that she already has a few farmers, as well as a local fisherman and the owner of a farm stand, on board. She also hopes to establish a fee for farmers to participate in the event. Other farmers markets on the East End charge anywhere from $150 to $225 for the summer.

When Ms. Cannon first proposed the farmers market to the public, she encountered opposition from some local business owners, including Dennis Schmidt of Schmidt’s Market and Jean Mackenzie of The Clamman, both located in Southampton Village. Both argued that the farmers market could take away business from them. Mr. Schmidt and Ms. Mackenzie could not be reached to discuss how the farmers market has affected their profits.

Ms. Cannon hopes to have a meeting with local business owners and farmers later this year. “We’ll look at the data, and see the numbers, and see if the businesses were really impacted,” she said.

Art Ludlow, the owner of Mecox Bay Dairy in Bridgehampton, is a vendor at the market and said it’s been a success.

“It’s going extremely well considering it’s a new one,” he said, adding that he sets up a stand to sell cheese at the farmers markets in East Hampton, Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton and Westhampton Beach. “It takes some time to get established.”

Mr. Ludlow said he plans to participate in the Southampton Farmers Market next year too.

“So far, what we’ve done there is worth going back, without a doubt, and this is the method of selling I prefer,” he said. “I like selling at farmers markets because I’m in direct contact with the people eating my cheese.”

Mr. Ludlow had an artisanal cheddar, a Gruyère-style cheese called Sigit, a brie-like cheese, a ricotta and a few others for sale at the market. “They’re all aged cheese because they’re all raw milk cheese,” he said, explaining that his cheeses are not made from pasteurized milk.

Another food purveyor, Mario Arlotta, who owns Arlotta Food Studio in Water Mill, said that he is finding success at the Southampton market. “I love being in this town,” Mr. Arlotta said, adding that a lot of people enjoy the olive oils he had for sale. Mr. Arlotta imports the olive oil, which comes in varieties such as blood orange and garlic-infused, from Modena, Italy.

Kathryn Boutcher of Southampton said that Sunday was her first time at the market but added that she would be back.

“I’m a gardener myself, so I like to talk to people and see what they’re growing,” said Ms. Boutcher, who bought jalapeño peppers at the market.

Another woman browsing around the farmers’ tents, Hermelinda Gavilan, said that she was proud to be able to purchase food and other products grown by her neighbors.

“I hope to support this here,” said Ms. Gavilan, who bought a bouquet of sunflowers, two melons and eggplants at the market.

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