Farmers' market nourishes, nurtures community

Since its inception in 2011, the Geneseo Farmers’ Market has grown into a dynamic and highly valued presence in Geneseo. With winter approaching, the market’s fifth season is coming to a close on Thursday Oct. 22. This year has been no exception in the market’s positive impact in the community.

As its motto promises, GFM provides “fresh, local and healthy” produce and goods to its patrons. Behind this paramount raison d'être lies another wholesome intent: providing a hub that enables people in Geneseo to cultivate connections.

“That’s a big thing about the market. It’s not just about the transactions,” GFM assistant market manager senior Jennifer Sassano said. “People get to chat and catch up with each other and that’s such an important part of this whole thing.”

Sassano added that GFM acts as an employer for Geneseo students as well as permanent residents, which nourishes the community’s economy. “[The market’s managers] like to keep the work and money local along with the goods,” she said.

Senior Elizabeth Wrisley is another Geneseo student involved in GFM, employed by Watt Farm Markets. Wrisely explained that she got the job this summer while staying in Geneseo for Resident Assistant training. “I have always been a fan of the farmers’ market,” she said. “When I saw a job opening at the Watt Farm stand this summer, I immediately applied for it.” Wrisley added that she is highly appreciative toward the vendor for hiring her despite her lack of previous experience in the domain.

During its season, the market is set up on Main Street and Center Street on Thursdays from 3-6:30 p.m. At GFM, a shopper is met with a remarkable array of produce and merchandise including fruits, vegetables, bakery items, coffee, cheeses, maple syrups, honeys and more. To capitalize on such abundance and variety, the vendors are arranged with farmers at every other stand and the assorted categories of other kiosks between them.

All GFM farmers and merchants hail from within a 60-mile radius of Geneseo, ensuring locality of goods. While the selection of sellers fluctuates annually, the market has been effectively delivering means for healthful local eating—not to mention the community it provides for Geneseo during each of its seasons.

While new vendors are always encouraged to join, some current stands have been with GFM since the original market start-up and have become regular attractions for returning GFM customers.

“You see the same people coming here week after week, year after year. It’s great,” Moondance Gardens farm’s Cecilia Deuel said. “It’s really gotten to be a sort of social event.” She and her husband David sell fruits and vegetables at their stand as well as homemade maple syrup, tapping woodlots on their property in York. Booths like Moondance Gardens epitomize the culture of GFM.

“Right from the beginning, the market’s business plan included both local fresh food and also community,” Sassano said.

The devotion GFM has for the Geneseo community is prevalent in all aspects of its operations. Aiming to inspire healthy eating practices and foster a constructive relationship with consumers, it provides—on its website—a collection of recipes that can be prepared using produce from its vendors. Supplements such as these demonstrate the values of wellbeing that are integral to the market’s foundation. Its positive function does not go unobserved and draws volunteers—who are pivotal to GFM’s subsistence and development.

GFM has undoubtedly experienced another successful term nourishing and nurturing the Geneseo community.

“The community is the most important thing,” Sassano said. “On Thursdays during selling season, you can expect we’ll be here, rain or shine.”