Shelter Island Farmers Market set to make its return

PETER BOODY PHOTO | Bri and Dan Fokine, organizers of the Shelter Island Farmers Market, which will return for its second season in June with more vendors.

The Shelter Island Farmers Market will open for its second season on Saturday, June 16, returning to the grounds of the Shelter Island Historical Society, market co-founders Bri and Dan Fokine announced last week.

In a change dictated “by feedback from the community,” Ms. Fokine said that the market will open an hour earlier this year, running from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Saturday, rain or shine, through September 22.

In addition to the new opening time, changes to this year’s market will include several new vendors, including organic, free-range chickens from Browder’s Birds, wines from Nappa Vineyards, Blue Duck Bakery’s artisanal breads, local cheeses from Little Peconic Purveyors, plus cupcakes and confections from All Good Things.

“After such a wonderful first year with such great support from the Island, we are very much looking forward to an even better second year,” said Mr. Fokine, who functions as the project’s volunteer manager. “The market was more than just a place to buy food; it became a community meeting place, a place where everyone slowed down a bit, took some time to relish in the simple pleasures that a Shelter Island summer has to offer.”

Bringing the market back this year was a “no brainer,” according to Ms. Fokine, and there was never a time when she and her husband did not think of re-opening it. “The vendors were 100 percent behind it. They were so positive about the space and their relationship with their customers,” she said. Her husband added, “Of all of the feedback we got last year, the best was when someone told me that going every Saturday had become a tradition, something her whole family did together.”

Ms. Fokine said that the Shelter Island Historical Society was extremely pleased with the interest that the market generated for the Society and its Havens House Museum. “We heard from so many people that they hadn’t known that this place was here,” she said.
Most of last year’s purveyors will return, with the exceptions of Greeny’s, which went out of business, and Brigham’s Honey, which will sell through a different vendor (Grady Riley) rather than taking a booth themselves. “It was disappointing,” Ms. Fokine observed, “but more people wanted to join than dropped out, so we’re pleased.”

Returning vendors include Sawyer Clark with fresh fish, KK’s heirloom tomatoes, Zombie Free flowers, Pete’s Endless Summer condiments, Apotheca ointment and unguents, Grady Riley Gardens, Horman’s Best Pickles, Le Poeme’s Parisian and Corsican breads, as well as vegetables from Sylvester Manor and Goodale Farms. “We’re not actually looking for additional vendors,” Ms. Fokine said, “but if someone feels that they want to be involved, it’s not too late.”

In an arrangement that Ms. Fokine characterizes as “very unusual,” local wineries Pindar and Nappa are able to sell their wares at the market due to a special arrangement between the New York State Department of Agriculture and the State Department of Health. “The State of New York felt that it was a way to help grow small businesses and support entrepreneurs,” she said. “The two departments worked together to create a process that avoided making wineries jump through hoops” in order to sell in a location outside their wineries and tasting rooms.

In addition to their standard insurance and licensing requirements, the venue at which they sell must be “approved by the State of New York as a bona fide farmers market,” Ms. Fokine explained. “There has been a groundswell of support across the state for farmers markets and the opportunities they provide to showcase small businesses. We have a once-in-a-lifetime shot at this opportunity so it’s important to support it.”

The Fokines are relying on family and friends to help set up the market and manage traffic and welcome all volunteers. “It’s actually pretty amazing,” Ms. Fokine admitted. “Every Saturday morning you wake up and say, ‘How are we going to do this?’ It’s like throwing an event every week. But somehow it always works out.”