The Hastings Farmers’ Market opened modestly in the summer of 1998 with a mere six vendors. Organized by a small, visionary committee of volunteers from the village, its mission in part was to enhance the downtown business district with an increase in foot traffic and out-of-town shoppers. The fledgling market was initially located on a small, closed-off section on the west side of Maple Avenue in front of the Municipal Building. It proved to be a nerve-wracking location, so close to traffic, and within a year it moved into its current location in the library parking lot, with cooling breezes and sweeping views of the Hudson River and the Palisades.
At the vanguard of the movement to support locally grown food and farm markets in the Lower Hudson Valley, the Hastings Farmers’ Market gradually grew from its original six vendors (including Morgiewicz and Meredith’s Bread, who continue to thrive at the current Saturday market) to more than twice its size. By 2007, the market was ready to expand even further. Originally managed by Miriam Haas as part of the aptly named Community Markets (based in Ossining), the market stepped out on its own, hiring village resident Pascale LeDraoulec to run the market. Pascale, originally from California, is a committed foodie (French parents, the famed Santa Monica Farmers’ Market nearby). While the Hastings Farmers’ Market was a new direction for her, she came to it naturally as a food writer whose credits include the book American Pie: Slices of Life (and Pie) from America’s Back Roads, as well as being the restaurant critic for New York’s Daily News.
The change was an instantaneous and huge success and secured the market’s role as the village’s premier gathering spot. With Pascale at the helm, the market doubled again in size, from about 15 to nearly 30 vendors. In addition to produce and fruit, flowers and plants, cheeses, pickles, baked goods, meat, fresh fish, a knife-sharpener, and bi-weekly or monthly vendors selling a range of items from wine to pesto to nuts, the market provides locally-made ready-to-eat foods to take home or enjoy at the picnic tables overlooking the Hudson River. Weekly events include live music, and children’s activities such as storytelling, yoga, and a crafts table. Recycling is encouraged, and at the end of the market, unsold produce and baked goods are collected by local organizations for those in need.
Today the market is a non-profit organization, and remains guided by its original mission: to support regional agriculture by bringing farm-fresh produce and goods from the Hudson Valley to our village, as well as educating and inspiring the market community about the benefits of local farming and sustainable practices. Not only does the market bolster the village’s economy with a large influx of shoppers, but it also provides job opportunities for many local youths. The market welcomes other local non-profits and organizations to participate, such as the Hastings Girl Scouts, Project SHARE, the volunteer fire department, and the Cornell Cooperative Extension Service, which every week fields gardening questions at a table in front of the invaluable library next door.
The weekly outdoor market runs from June through November, 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., in the Hastings Library parking lot off of Maple Avenue. A slightly smaller monthly indoor winter market runs from December through May, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the James Harmon Community Center on Main Street.