Tarrytown Farmers Market Could See New Management

Graphic provided by Rivertowns Village Green
Graphic provided by Rivertowns Village Green
Hundreds of community members have signed a petition that calls for a local non-profit to run the Tarrytown Farmers Market, which has been managed in recent years by a company called Down to Earth Markets.

How that push will play out remains to be seen, as both entities have agreements in place to run the event, according to Village officials.

The non-profit, Rivertowns Village Green (RVG), is made up of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown residents. Members posted the petition about a week ago. They maintain that volunteers have improved the market, bringing programs that include music, yoga and children's activities, while Down to Earth Markets has failed to do its part in growing the event.

"The for-profit did not follow through on its promises to promote and expand the market," the petition states. "They’ve made it difficult at almost every turn—resisting new ideas and suggested changes. Not only has the for-profit created a market that doesn't serve our residents, but our market has actually shrunk in vendor size, lacks any meaningful variety of goods and services, and is considered one of the smallest and least interesting markets in Westchester County." 

Patch reached out to the company with several questions about the claims in the petition. Director of Community Relations and Marketing Frankie Rowland provided a statement, noting that Down to Earth Markets "has had a positive relationship with the Village of Tarrytown for 13 years and anticipates an ongoing positive relationship."

The market is open on Saturdays from late May to mid-November. It's held at Patriots Park on North Broadway. 

In past seasons there have been fewer than a dozen vendors, while nearby markets—such as the one in the Pleasantville, where the population is less than that of Sleepy Hollow's and Tarrytown's—offer up to four times as many, according to Suzanne Sorrentino, one of RVG's co-presidents.

Examples of unmet requests include selling coffee and accepting food stamps, she said.

The non-profit's goal is a bigger, more vibrant market "run by the community, for the community," according to the petition. 

"I think at the end of the day we just have different visions for this market," Sorrentino said. 

The organization has expressed that vision before local leaders. Michael Blau, Village administrator in Tarrytown, provided Patch with a statement Friday morning.

"The Village has been working with both Rivertowns Village Green (RVG) and Down to Earth Markets (DTE) concerning a farmers market for the upcoming season," the statement reads. "The Village did execute an agreement with RVG to operate this year’s market, but at the time the Board was not aware that there was an existing agreement with DTE that dated back to 2006, and which does not expire until December 2015. Thus, we now have two agreements with two different entities to operate a farmers market in the same location on the same day of the week. Consequently, the Village is attempting to work with both parties in an effort to resolve this and provide our residents the best possible farmers market. In making its decisions, the Village must consider all related items, including legal concerns, in order to provide for the farmers market and protect the residents of Tarrytown. At the same time, the Village greatly values input from the public regarding this matter and will take the petition into consideration as one of the items affecting the decision making process."

There were about 500 names on the petition as of Sunday night, along with a slew of comments from local folks. Sorrentino called the reaction "astounding," and said it "validates" that the group is "on the right track.

"Our famers market has so much potential to be a vital center of our beautiful village," Jill Liflander wrote. "It seems to be wilting and not reflecting the desires of the SH/TT community to be an exciting, positive weekend destination."

Click here to view the petition, and use the comments section to share your thoughts about the Tarrytown Farmers Market.

Clarice February 10, 2014 at 11:42 AM
Why is it that the Village wasn't aware of the agreement that was already in place with Village Down to Earth Markets before signing an agreement with Rivertowns Village Green? Someone dropped the ball! Who is going to stand up and take responsibility? Did the Village Administrator make the decision or did he just sign off on someone else's decision?
Jerry Eimbinder February 10, 2014 at 12:43 PM
Rivertowns Village Green should be commended for caring enough to take action. No one else did apparently. RVG says it would hire a manager to run day-to-day operations. An alternative solution could be to find a different farmer's market management company, one with viable contacts since crucial to success is attracting new vendors. There is proven local talent who might be persuaded to get involved too. No one runs a better or more successful Crafts, Food and Street Fair than John Sardy, Sleepy Hollow Tarrytown Chamber of Commerce director. Knowledgeable marketing-minded pros in our own community also include Jenifer Ross (Watercooler) and Brian Doyle (J.P. Doyle's), possessors of fine organizational and people skills.
Zak Shusterman February 10, 2014 at 02:16 PM
Great points. One of the first things Rivertowns Village Green (RVG) did even before it was formed was to reach out to various components of our community to ask them how the market could work with them. We spoke to the leaders of the Chamber of Commerce about ideas for driving more business to our downtowns. We spoke with the school district about getting students involved and offering supplemental educational programming. We spoke to local restaurants and other food vendors about how to make the market attractive for selling their products. We spoke to local community organizations like the food pantry, the YMCA and RAW about cooperating on programs with them. Many local businesses and professionals are already directly and indirectly supporting RVG. And we're not done. The Tarrytown Farmers Market will belong to and respond to all of us!
Jerry Eimbinder February 10, 2014 at 04:15 PM
Sounds like a good effort thus far, Zak. You might also want to talk to farm stand vendors to ask why they bring their wares elsewhere but not to the Tarrytown market. Look at the vendor list for the Piermont Farmer's Market in a Patch article I wrote. The link is: www.columbiacounty.wikispaces.com/file/view/+Produce,+Pastries,+Pies,+Prepared+Food+and+More+-+Nyack-Piermont,+NY+Patch.pdf
Deb February 10, 2014 at 05:12 PM
I am an independent farmer and 8-year resident of Sleepy Hollow. I have been selling at another market for several years, but have been yearning to feed my neighbors! I started out pretty well acquainted with many of the local producers of prepared and specialty foods, and very well acquainted with local and regional farmers. Since I've been on the board of RVG I've been working with the vendor committee. We've spent many months becoming even more familiar with the issues facing vendors of all types and how several different markets address those challenges. While we have only recently "gone public", RVG has been working together for several months. The core of RVG is the volunteer group who worked for 3 years with the for-profit company who ran the market. We have put in literally hundreds of hours understanding and planning for every aspect of running a farmers market. We are remarkably prepared to move forward!


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