About 25 Islanders came out to Havens House barn on Friday night to hear plans for a Shelter Island Farmers’ Market, a marketplace of local vendors being organized by Dan and Bri Fokine.
The organizers are looking for local vendors to sell fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, cheeses, meats, fish, poultry, eggs, baked goods, honey, maple syrup, preserves. Anything sold at the market must be vendor-grown or produced. Local vineyards including Duck Walk and Pindar have expressed interest in selling their wines at the marketplace and possibly holding tastings, according to the Fokines.
The market will be held on Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. from June 25 through Columbus Day weekend on the Shelter Island Historical Society’s Havens House grounds. In case of rain, it will be held in the barn there.
The fee for vendors is $200 for one booth and another $75 for each additional booth. Ferry fare will be reimbursed to market vendors coming from off-Island. Organizers hope to have a total of at least 10 vendors when the market debuts next month.
Supervisor Jim Dougherty introduced the Fokines at the event. “They’re giving absolute first priority to Island purveyors of various products,” he said of the Fokines. “I think it’s going to be a terribly exciting event, long overdue on this Island.”
The market, Mr. Fokine explained, will be “an opportunity for people to do something on a small scale and a have a place to sell their product.” It will let them “make their passions for jam or breads possible in the economic sphere. You can take that thing that you like and make money off of it, which makes your life better, and you can employ a high school kid to help you pick strawberries for your jam; it’s a job that is very rewarding.”
Pat Mundus, Historical Society director, explained that allowing the market on its grounds was part of the society’s effort to use its barn for social gatherings and events to better serve the community. “Our mission and our whole purpose of being is to help Shelter Islanders understand their sense of place, and what better way can we do that than with really good food,” she said.
Historical Society Curator Bev Walz added that the Havens House is a logical place for the market because it was the “original store on the Island,” where people came from all around to buy or barter for supplies or rum.
Part of the inspiration for organizing the market, Mr. Fokine explained, was a story he once read about a lima bean cooperative that operated for years on Shelter Island. The cooperative was organized in the early 1950s, with packaging facilities in the building that later served as the town highway barn on Route 114. The co-op became a major national lima bean marketer and many Islanders worked there. Hurricanes in 1954 and 1955 destroyed the crop and the cooperative.
“I don’t want that to the be the final chapter of agriculture on Shelter Island. It’s not good enough to have just one farm,” he said, referring to the community supported agricultural project at Sylvester Manor.
Both he and Ms. Fokine worked at an organic farm and with a community supported agricultural farm in Boston, Massachusetts.
Neither the society nor Mr. or Mrs. Fokine will make any money from the market, Ms. Mundus explained. “The only people who will make money will be the vendors,” she said. Individual vendors will supply their own tables; the society will provide only the location.
Some people expressed a concern about how goods will be priced. Mr. Fokine explained that vendors will set their own prices, but that trying to undercut the other vendors will be highly discouraged. Mr. Fokine said that the society would provide parking at the old highway barn site next door — where the lima bean co-op used to be — and cars would not line Route 114.
Ms. Fokine said that “Pat Mundus calls this our baby, and we really do feel that way … but it’s not our baby, it belongs to the whole community, which is why we wanted to have this here.”
For more information about the market or to become a vendor, contact Dan Fokine at [email protected] or call him at 455-0334.