By Eric DiCrescenzo and Ken Fermin
The temperature was 45 degrees when the market opened at nine in the morning along with an overcast sky on Sunday. Despite the cold temperature, the Port Jefferson Farmers Market had customers walking in with knitted hats, scarves and sweaters as the summer market comes to a close over the next couple of weekends. While temperatures have dropped, the market moved from their usual location in the parking lot of the Port Jefferson Village Center, inside of the building, which is where the market will be during the winter.
The market will close up the summer season on November 24. The summer market began on May 5 and has only been open on Sundays from nine in the morning until two in the afternoon. The summer market doesn’t have a set end date each year, rather they decide prior to opening of the summer season what their close date will be.
The transition of seasonal markets causes a change in the number of stands. The Prascilla’s Farm stand, bundled up and pushing through the brisk temperatures, were the only stand at the market that remained outdoors.
“During the peak of summer season we have 40 to 45 stands show up,” market manager Melissa Dunstatter, a market manager, said. “Right now we’re transitioning from outside to inside, during the winter market we’ll usually have 20-25 stands.”
The number of stands constantly decreasing, as well as the variety of products the remaining stands offer, hits home for the patrons. With only two stands remaining that still offer produce from local farms, the opportunities for people to grab items like fresh vegetables are dwindling.
“I’ve been coming here for a while and the produce is always fresh,” George Lee, a vendor said. “The best part about the produce here is that it’s fresh and you just feel healthier eating it.”
Following the strong summer market they experienced in 2019, management of the market wants to see similar numbers flock in during the winter market. They’re going into their second year using the Port Jefferson Village Center in the winter season.
“This was the best summer market we’ve had in the [first] 10 years we’ve been running,” Dunstatter said. “It’s one of Long Island’s biggest farmers markets and we hope to continue with a strong winter.”
When the seasons change, so does the stock the farmer’s are able to sell at the market. Prascilla’s Farm, from Southhold, NY, has to change their stock at this time of the year because they can’t grow and sell certain vegetables. They have to switch to items like broccoli and cabbage in the fall instead of selling tomatoes and potatoes in the summer.
“During the summer we do the bulk of our sales, now things are slowing down,” Leslie Howard, a farmhand from Prascilla’s Farm, said. “With the seasons and the farming, you have different crops, like now we have broccoli and cabbage.”
Other stands like Alamani Organic Herbs & Beyond, don’t have to worry as much about the struggle of selling produce from season to season. Alamani Organic Herbs & Beyond grows their own herbs, but they also get products imported from Jordan. They sell herbs, spices, teas, and much more, as well as stuffed eggplants and yogurt bowls.
“Whatever is available in the season, we will always make it available for customers,” Naela Zeidan, the owner of Almani Organic Herbs & Beyond, said. “We had a very strong summer season and hopefully that carries into the next season, with whatever we’re selling.”
The changing of the season, however, does leave customers hoping the winter can still provide them with the products and ingredients they use for their dishes at home.
“I don’t come too often, but I always like getting the organic items that help my food be enjoyable,” Abby Cuomo said. “The things I picked up from here are especially good for my soup at home, so I hope they can keep selling.”
This year was the tenth year of the Port Jefferson Farmers Market.