Indoor farmers market fosters local business connections

Maryam Bacchus/The Miscellany News.

Thursday, Jan. 26, marked the opening of the new Indoor Farmers Market. Moving forward, the market will be open every Thursday until May 4, from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. in the College Center South Atrium, outside of The Retreat. Transitioning from its outdoor format in the fall and spring, several vendors were present at the market.

Megan Williams started her company, Food to Write Home About, a year ago, selling baked goods both online and in-person to the people of the Hudson Valley. The idea was born after a close friend asked her to make desserts for a party, where she discovered her passion. At the Farmers Market, she has several varieties of pies, cookies and specialty items for sale. When asked why she loves selling at Vassar, Williams explained, “I’m excited to sell in this historical space; it’s cool to be able to come here. A lot of students are customers and I really appreciate that they spend their money on my baked goods.”

A second vendor, Meredith’s Country Bakery in Kingston, NY, is a specialty gluten-free, paleo-friendly, locally-sourced bakery that caters to those with dietary restrictions. After 50 years, Meredith’s Country Bakery is a staple of the Hudson Valley; in fact, even after the eponymous Meredith’s death, the new owners still use her name and original recipes to honor her memory. They sell most of their baked goods in the tri-state area, functioning as a Hudson Valley landmark. Kevin, the salesman from the store, explained: “We’re on the way to Phoenicia and Woodstock, a very native type of area, and we provide the opportunity for something sweet on the way to both natural and cultural sites in the Hudson Valley.” When asked what sets Meredith’s apart, he quickly responded, “Buy local. It beats going to the grocery store, it’s a lot better for you digestively and health wise and it’s always great to support the local community.”

Another local artisan on offer, The Educated Chef, is a sourdough bread company with bread baked exclusively by Mark Doctoroff. He has been baking professionally for a decade and was a regular at Vassar’s outdoor markets before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, he also sells outdoors at local markets such as the Arlington Farmers Market and the Poughkeepsie Waterfront Market. Doctoroff began baking bread for himself over a decade ago. After becoming unemployed, he decided to make baking his full-time livelihood. Doctoroff has grown his inventory to include several specialty breads for different occasions, such as Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick’s Day and Ukrainian Easter Bread for Easter. Baking isn’t merely his profession but his passion, as he explained: “I love baking bread, feeding people, seeing the smile on their face when they bite into it. I love seeing stuff that I make with my own hands bring joy to those around me.” 

The Cooperstown Cheese Company, located in Milford, NY, approximately 100 miles north from Vassar, crafts local, artisanal cheeses, notably including its Toma Celena and Jersey Girl cheeses. The company specializes in European-inspired cheeses from primarily Jersey and Brown Swiss cows’ milk, and makes sure to only use milk from local dairy farms. Cooperstown Cheese Company takes the cheese from these local farms and ages it in its aging caves, which are both temperature- and humidity-controlled. Started by Bob Sweitzer and Sharon Tomaselli, who both transitioned from papermaking to cheesemaking, the business has become renowned for the high quality of its cheeses. Notably, both the Toma Celena and Jersey Girl cheeses were served at the 57th Presidential Inaugural Luncheon in 2013. Here at Vassar, Cooperstown Cheese Company sells its wares to students to enjoy and sample, and has been a fixture of the Outdoor and Indoor Markets for years.

The Vassar Indoor Farmers Market brings together the creativity and the products of some of the Hudson Valley’s finest artisans, benefitting both the vendors and the student body. In the spring, the Farmer’s Market will transition back outdoors and will be able to accommodate more vendors than when inside the Main Building. Once it does, even more vendors will be able to bring their products for Vassar students to enjoy.

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