Skip to main content

Glens Falls Farmers’ Market Expands for Final Summer Season Under Old Pavilion

Since 1973, the Glens Falls Farmers Market Association has been bringing locally grown, produced, and crafted products directly to consumers. Now, with construction underway for what will hopefully become the market’s new home, they are striving to grow in today’s “on-demand” economy.

As an economic model, the farmers market is an elegant force of nature dependent on its ability to help farmers acquire critically-needed income streams while giving consumers the hyper-local, ultra-fresh foods they crave. This year, anticipated to be the Glens Falls Farmers Market’s last summer at the South Street Pavilion, the market will be open every Saturday from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM, featuring 40 vendors, including seven new participants: Bell Mountain Farm, Blackberry Hill Farm, Hex & Hops, Jacob’s Farm, Latherful Soaps LLC, Mama G’s Gluten Free Bakery, and Slyboro Ciderhouse.

Details are still being ironed out on how the new leaf-shaped event pavilion, funded under the Glens Falls Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant awarded to the city years ago, will best serve the Farmers’ Market today. “My hope is everyone (vendors and customers) will be happy there and that we’ll have a place to grow,” said Glens Falls Farmers Market Association President, Tom Wells.

A History of Growth

According to the USDA, the popularity of farmers markets has exploded nationally, from less than 2,000 in 1994 to nearly 9,000 by 2019. In the last few years however, nationwide growth has started to slow down and existing markets are acclimating, learning how best to serve the audiences they’ve garnered. “The market has grown unbelievably,” said Wells, owner of Pleasant Valley Apiary and a market member since 2016. “There’s a variety of vendors so people have better choices of where to shop.”

Open to crafters, growers, and producers, the Glens Falls Farmers Market vendor application period runs twice annually, from February through March and September through October each year.

The Reboot’s Ripple Effect

The number of Glens Falls Farmers Market vendors has grown by a third in the past eight years and, although traffic is sporadic, the summer market now attracts as many as 5,000 shoppers on a single Saturday… In the winter, that number drops to around 2,000 people. “I think a lot of people forget we move to the mall now in the winter,” said Wells.

Because their presence under the South Street pavilion is seasonal, the winter market is held elsewhere. In the last decade, it has relocated from the basement of the Christ Church United Methodist on Bay Street, to the WSWHE BOCES Sanford Street Teaching and Learning Center building, to their parking lot (during COVID), and finally to the Aviation Mall, where it is now housed from November until May.

By adopting technological innovations to facilitate transactions including e-commerce solutions, mobile payment systems, approving the acceptance of SNAP/EBT benefits (assisting low income families to incorporate healthier products into their daily diets), and a new website and media by ADK Web Solutions, the Glens Falls Farmers Market is putting a priority on preserving their distinctive character and heritage while rebooting a fresh demand for locally-grown produce.

“I’m as busy as everyone else is, trying to get to everywhere on a Saturday,” said Wells, explaining that hectic schedules are one reason why vendors have also added grab & go options, while still continuing to offer the friendly faces, recipe selections, children’s craft table, and conversations that make a stop here unique.

“You have that personal connection, where if you go to the supermarket, you don’t actually meet the person making the product. There are so many unique and diverse people at the market and so many different ideologies, and that’s how I like it to be,” said Wells.

The ripple effects these changes have on the community’s evolving economy are as far-reaching as the flavors of honey Wells sells out of every week. His Pleasant Valley Apiary products vary weekly because he harvests and bottles his honey fresh from 75 hives located across the region– carrying the flavors of black locust from South Glens Falls, lavender from Fort Ann’s Lavenlair Farm, the sweetness of Winnie’s Blueberries in Schuylerville, or the tang of ripened goldenrod during the late summer season.

New Beginnings

By examining logistical and infrastructure hurdles, traffic flow, the absence of heating in the structure, and scheduled event Black-Out dates, the Glens Falls Farmers Market Board has worked with the city to best leverage the DRI’s up to $5-million investment. “Hopefully we can come to an agreement and make it work for everybody. The city is doing everything they can to make it work,” said Wells, adding that the winter market would like a home as well: “We like the mall. They’ve been more than gracious and an awesome organization to work with, but there’s a lot of sentiment around staying in the city year-round.”

Issues including how best to maximize room to roam, light and air flow, coordinating with public transportation, and ensuring public restroom availability, have extended the market’s relocation to the new facility until next May. Sidewalk improvements to the South Street Corridor are to be completed by June.

For updates, follow the Glens Falls Farmers Market on Facebook. Subscribe to their newsletter and find more information at glensfallsfarmersmarket.com