Corrin "Biff" Strong and girlfriend Amy Carpenter own the Little Green Market behind the courthouse on Avon Road, which has remained virtually unknown to many but is now gradually becoming a familiar part of the Geneseo community.
Strong was born near Philadelphia, Penn. and returned to his mother's Geneseo home - the site where the Little Green Market stands - in 1975 as a junior transfer student after a five-year hiatus. He graduated from Geneseo in 1977 with a degree in history at age 26 and continued on to SUNY Albany for his law degree.
"I practiced law for a while, didn't like that and then I got involved in the newspaper business back here in Geneseo," Strong said.
Strong was the editor of The Lincoln Valley Clarion up until three years ago when he sold it to The Livingston County News. "I know a lot about the newspaper business," he said. "But I don't miss that either."
Carpenter grew up in Webster, N.Y. and has lived in the Rochester area for her entire life. She met Strong about seven years ago while working for the Town of Livonia Historical Society and making copies at Genesee Graphics, another one of Strong's business ventures that he still owns. They began dating after "one thing led to another," Strong joked.
In spite of his various endeavors, farming continues to be central to Strong's professional life. He resigned from large-scale farming - at one point cultivating over 600 acres - in 1992 and vowed never to return. Seventeen years later, Strong tilled his way back, albeit on a much smaller scale. "Even when I was in law school, I was still farming," Strong said. "It's the type of bug that stays with you."
The stand, which is open from June to October, opened for the first time last year. Strong and Carpenter moved the stand to its permanent location off Avon Road this past June. Strong said he and Carpenter have a number of loyal customers from the community and a "surprising" number of students.
Strong and Carpenter run the market mostly on their own with help from a few community members and student volunteers. They sell produce like sweet peas and corn, lettuce, potatoes, green beans, peppers and pumpkins. The offerings vary based on the season.
"Everything that we sell here, we grow ourselves … it's really been a learning experience," Strong said.
The Market isn't certified organic; obtaining certification takes a lot of time and money, so all of the produce sold is what Strong and Carpenter call "chemical-free." Strong explained that the couple doesn't use chemicals or insecticides, though, "Sometimes we have problems with bugs … in that case," he said, "we usually end up eating it ourselves."
As a way to draw in customers, Strong and Carpenter have created their own version of the national "community-supported agriculture." They offer a discount to "shareholders" who purchase a number of "Little Green bucks" at the beginning of the season so that they can buy the produce that they want later on. "This way you can buy just what you want, and you're not forced to take things you don't like," Strong said.
Payment at the market is also completely trust-based, since neither Strong nor Carpenter have the time to be there all day. They have a box for customers to leave money, and they said that there hasn't been a problem with this method yet.
In addition to working the farm, Strong and Carpenter are very active in the Geneseo community. Strong owns the Genesee Volley Tennis Club and recently started a league that practices a form of croquet called "croakey." The couple also runs a bed and breakfast out of their home, owns a number of student apartments and has just adopted two adult standard poodles - Buddy and Rosie - that came to them all the way from New Hampshire.
For more information on The Little Green Market, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the "Friends of the Little Green Market" group on Facebook.
Amy CarpenterHobby: Walking their poodles, Buddy and RosieBook: The Botany of Desire by Michael PollanProduce: Apples to make apple crisp
(10/28/10)--this article contains the following errors: Albany Law School is affiliated with Union College and is not part of SUNY; The name of Corrin Strong's start-up newspaper was The Lake & Valley Clarion not The Lincoln Valley Clarion.