In 2007, Nancy Ransley, a member of the congregation of Sodus United Third Methodist Church, brought the idea of starting a farmers’ market in the church parking lot to the Outreach Team. After discussion of the feasibility of such a project, the team decided to give it a try. They agreed to try this in conjunction with the church Fun Fest in 2008. The Outreach Team contacted several local farmers, and three agreed to set up on the specified day. The event was well attended, and afterwards many community members who attended asked when we were going to have the farmer vendors come again.
Thus, began our research into steps to set up and run a Farmers’ Market. We met with two local farmers, Marie Costello (GMB Beckens Farms) and Olen Youngman (Youngman Orchards) who had experience as vendors at established farmers’ markets. They were supportive of operating a farmers’ market in Sodus and gave us information, hints about what successful markets were doing, and contact information to get us started. Contacting the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets was imperative. They explained that it would be important to qualify as an FMNP (Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program) approved market. This national program allows approved bona fide farmers to accept FMNP checks from eligible customers to purchase fresh, local fruits and vegetables. We made our contacts, attended required training, completed our paperwork, and were approved for our 2009 season.
In 2009, we had seven vendors on opening day. The response from the community was explosive, and most of those seven vendors were sold out within an hour! Our market has grown since then. In 2022, we had an average of fifteen vendors for the entire eighteen weeks. Our Special Events vendors were a big draw, and the market welcomed 46 Special Events for the season. Not only does the market provide a venue for the community (and surrounding communities) to purchase fresh local fruit and vegetables, but also a Kids Tent with activities for the children, a wealth of health and nutrition information and services, music presentations and other vendors with useful information.
We had, and still have, a dedicated market team who loyally handle the many responsibilities of running a market. Those job responsibilities include managing the market and the finances, providing the EBT/SNAP program, monitoring attendance and all incoming paperwork, setting up the Special Events, organizing the Friends of the Market program, taking care of maintenance/grounds, designing advertisements, and updating the web page. Our original Market Team consisted of Sandy Hall, Mary Ann Riker, Elaine Vanderzille and Cindy Rittinger. Since 2009 others have taken on the responsibilities of outgoing team members or filled new positions. They are Ruth Fisher, Sandi Hamilton, Sue Minier, Daryl Minier, Gloria Mayou, Lorri Brandt, Nancy Ghertner, and Amber Allen. We are also fortunate to have a team of dedicated volunteers ("Friends of the market") who help us each week to make the market a success.
During the 2022 we were extremely fortunate to organize a "Market Advisory Team" to give constructive ideas to the market team for the purpose of improving our market. Members of that team are Audrey Ferris, Patty Paprocki, Bob Hillis, Don Lessord, Kim Buell, Chrissy Pobol and Kate Pobol-Illum. Their suggestions were always on target and helped with many improvements to the market. All have agreed to continue serving for the 2023 season.
The Market has had the continued support of the church Second Best Shop. Market customers can find useful merchandise, trinkets, and an assortment of bargains at extremely reasonable prices. The shop is located in the basement of the church and is always open for customers every market day. It is operated strictly by volunteers. Connie Ferguson followed her dream to make this shop come to fruition many years ago. For the last several years, Donna Hontz and her loyal volunteers, Kay Baker, Lorraine Sonneville, Mari Ann Nelson and Lynn Polochock have kept the shop in stock and open.
The Market has close ties with both Cornell Cooperative Extension and Wayne County Rural Health Network. The Market Team is very grateful for all these two organizations do to make our market a wholesome, educational place to visit.
We look forward to the upcoming 2023 market season and all the benefits our vendors and customers will enjoy.