A farmers market may be returning to East Meadow Farms next season.
Hunsberger, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of
Nassau County, which operates the farm at 832 Merrick Avenue, said CCE
has looked into cooperating with local farmers that could sell produce
on a limited basis ever since the former market closed last year.
Hunsberger is hoping to have something in place for the 2014 growing season.
loved having the farmers market at the East Meadow Farm last year and
were very disappointed when Ethel told us they would not be returning,"
Hunsberger is referring to Ethel Terry, who coordinates the Long Island Growers Market (LIGM),
which now operates farmers markets on 33 sites across Long Island. The
first market started in Islip 21 years ago and is still open.
said LIGM tried for years to have a farmers market in East Meadow but
lack of support closed them down. A market existed at Nassau University
Medical Center for three years. When that one closed the market moved to
East Meadow Farms but Terry said not enough people came out to support
that one either.
"We had 17 vendors at the hospital and every
one started to leave due to no support then," Terry said. "We moved to
the Cornell Cooperative Extension last year and the same thing happened
- not enough people came out to support us so we closed that site as
Terry, a vegetable farmer herself, said support has been
down at all the sites this year so opening a new one in East Meadow is
unlikely for LIGM. "I think it will be hard to keep it going," she said.
"We already tried two different sites."
At the start of this
year's growing season local families via a lottery system were chosen to
grow their own fresh produce in 5' x 20' cedar raised beds built and
filled by CCE master gardeners and volunteers at East Meadow Farms.
were provided basic vegetable gardening instruction with follow-up
question and answer sessions with CCE. The community gardens are for
home consumption and any excess produce is donated to the Hempstead INN.
According to Hunsberger, 58 plots were available and demand for the 2013 growing season vastly exceeded available space.
to bring back a farmers market to this location would fall by the
wayside if CCE does not receive a county funding commitment before
October. Hunsberger recently spoke out against the "continued absence of
Nassau County annual budget line item funding" at a legislative meeting
held earlier this month.
Extension officials said a continued
lack of funding will lead to immediate employee layoffs and facilities
closures. East Meadow Farms would be the first facility to close.
In the meantime, an interactive map of the closest farmers markets to East Meadow and when they're open can be foundhere.
The market located at 101 County Seat Drive in Garden City has been
there for eight years and is open Tuesdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. There's
also Crossroads Farm at Grossmann's located
in Malverne, which harvests and sells its own organic produce, in
addition to items grown or prepared at other Long Island farms.
a federally-funded program makes farm fresh food options available to
income-eligible seniors in East Meadow who can receive a one-time coupon
book worth $20 to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at local
markets, according to Nassau County officials. The coupons, courtesy of
the state Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, are available at no cost. Call the Nassau County Office for the Aging at 227-8919 for more information.