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New Sunday farmers market in downtown Albany to kick off this weekend

 Georgette Steffens, Sue Rizzo, Dan McCoy, and Ellen Sax at MVP Arena in Albany on July 10, 2023, kicking off the Albany County Farmers Market.
Alexander Babbie
Georgette Steffens, Sue Rizzo, Dan McCoy, and Ellen Sax at MVP Arena in Albany on July 10, 2023, kicking off the Albany County Farmers Market.

A new Albany County farmers market starts this weekend.

Speaking Monday at the county-owned MVP Arena in Albany, which host the market, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said it will give city residents better access to fresh food.

“This is an opportunity for people to come here to give exposure to our great MVP arena to really look at what we're doing here and to give workers that are downtown, you know, an opportunity to pick up some fresh vegetables and go home with and you know, someone said having it in a can or fighting at the supermarket to get it," McCoy said.

McCoy says the market is a step in addressing food insecurity.

“Right down the street we got 90 South Pearl Street, 91 and 101 South Pearl Street, or 99, excuse me and 101 South Pearl Street, you got 200, 230, 240 Green Street, all places with seniors in there that now can walk here, get fresh vegetables, walk home. And then you got all the apartments that are left on 90 State and they're all the ones being put in by Redburn down the street that would give people an opportunity to sit there and shop local," McCoy said.

Ellen Sax, Vice President of Community Engagement for MVP Health Care, one of the county’s partners in the project, says the collaboration is important for MVP and the county.

“We believe it is not just our responsibility, but our commitment to go beyond what is expected when it comes to enhancing the well-being of the communities we serve. We're so proud to be part of this initiative," Sax said.

Georgette Steffens, Executive Director of the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District, says there’s a variety of options available.

“We have 30 vendors participating each week. And they we have three farmers that are going to be there including Eight Mile Creek Farm, Ardath Mae Farmstead, and Mountain Wind Farms. So we have an organic farmer, which we're super excited about," Steffens said.

Steffens added that the market will also support minorities.

“We're also proud to say that over 30% of our vendors participating in the market are BIPOC-owned businesses, that's an average sort of across all four of the markets," Steffens said.

The markets will also be themed towards ways for self-improvement.

“This one will be healthy living. So to promote healthy living choices and an active lifestyle, there'll be a free to use smoothie bike. So your pedaling will get the blender moving, and using your own energy instead of electricity to make your smoothie with fruits and vegetables that you purchase at the market. And so, kids of all ages can pedal their way to a delicious healthy treat. And the themes for August September and October will be literacy for August, environmental awareness for September, and of course, harvest themed in October.”

Other activities at the market will include: “…free face painting and kid friendly sidewalk games. Honest Weight Food Co-op is going to be providing educational cooking activities in July, September and October. In August the Red Bookshelf will be on site with free children's books and they're also accepting donations if people want to bring in some donations. In September Sunray Permacultural- Culture will provide a free educational activity focused on environmental awareness. And in October of course, we're going to have pumpkins and Halloween Harvest Festival kind of activities," Steffens said.

Steffens says the market is open to users of SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps.

“The first 100 SNAP recipients will receive a $25 voucher to purchase food, SNAP eligible food, fresh food at the market. And that will be at each market." Steffens said.

McCoy also revealed a new insulated bag design.

“You have this nice little bag, it gives the dates. So when you come to the farmers market, you'll be able to take one of these bags free of charge, and take it home," McCoy said.

The Farmers Market will be from noon to 4 p.m. outside the arena on South Pearl Street every third Sunday from July to October.

A 2022 Siena College graduate, Alexander began his journalism career as a sports writer for Siena College's student paper The Promethean, and as a host for Siena's school radio station, WVCR-FM "The Saint." A Cubs fan, Alexander hosts the morning Sports Report in addition to producing Morning Edition. You can hear the sports reports over-the-air at 6:19 and 7:19 AM, and online on WAMC.org. He also speaks Spanish as a second language. To reach him, email ababbie@wamc.org, or call (518)-465-5233 x 190. You can also find him on Twitter/X: @ABabbieWAMC.