On Saturday morning, Pleasantville officials and members of a brand new non-profit will cut the ribbon on the first indoor farmers' market for the village, a vision a longtime in the making for resident Peter Rogovin and the Farmers' Market Committee.
"We have been exploring doing an indoor market for a while," said the chair of the former committee.
For its first 15 years, the Pleasantville Farmers' Market (outdoor) was operated by the Ossining-based Community Markets (now Down to Earth Markets), an organization that also operates eight other Westchester markets.
The Village of Pleasantville decided to split ways with Community Markets at the end of the 2012 outdoor season.
Now, the recently-formed Foodchester is heading up the Pleasantville-only operation and introducing its first indoor market.
"Foodchester's mission is to make the Pleasantville Farmers Market a Pleasantville-centric operation," Stuart Vance, vice-chair of Foodchester and former committee member, explained in an email to Patch. "That means that we are responsible to the needs and wishes of the people of our village and to the village government that supports us."
To bring this idea to fruition, the former Pleasantville Farmers' Market committee members became Foodchester's board.
One of the first undertakings was to hire an executive director to run the organization, as Rogovin and all board members are volunteers.
"We recruited the former manager of the Cold Spring Farmers' Market, which is a very well-regarded market in the Hudson Valley," Rogovin said. "We became aware of him through two recommendations from vendors who were in both markets."
Steven Bates, now Foodchester's executive director, has been involved with the Cold Spring market for seven years, including its indoor market for the past four years.
He said recommendations from vendors at the Cold Spring market and the enthusiasm and organization of the committee—"a remarkably dedicated group of volunteers"—convinced him the gig would be a good fit.
"It's a very community-minded and community-supported market," Bates said. "The vendors love the community and the community loves the vendors."
The new market, to be held in Pleasantville Middle School every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through May 11, will make many of the outdoor market's most popular vendors available to patrons year-round.
In addition, the market is meant "to be much more responsive to the families who live and shop in Pleasantville," according to Vance.
"For instance, we have families in our village who, for health reasons, have a particular need for gluten-free products," he pointed out.
That will be addressed with a weekly table that will have a rotation of gluten-free vendors, said Bates, including the Irvington-based Red Barn Bakery and Izzi B's Allergen Free Bakery.
There will also be some new-to-Pleasantville vendors introduced this winter in the middle school cafeteria that will accommodate about 25 sellers each week.
"I would say that having John Boy's Farm is a really big deal for us," Bates said. "He comes in and compliments some existing beef and pork we have at the market and some existing chicken with his very well-known meats. He grows the grain for those meats, so he's really a story of his own. I know shoppers will be excited about that."
Lazy Crazy Acres Farmstead Creamery's "cow to cone" gelato in the summer, fresh milk and hot chocolate for the colder months; and Breezy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill's crisp winter apples are also welcome additions, Bates shared.
"...we have really focussed on making sure that our vendors are local or regional and that any product sold in our market is as locally sourced as possible," added Vance. "We want to support local agriculture and foodways as much as we can while making the experience of shopping a fun, community-oriented experience."
Bringing the new market and non-profit to fruition has been a collaboration between the village, school district and many community volunteers, said Rogovin.
"This is an example of how people in Pleasantville have really put themselves out there and make stuff happen and in a village like this, stuff really does get done," he shared.
In addition to the community-created marketing materials, signage and website, area businesses including Phelps Memorial Hospital, The GYM of Armonk and Green Mountain Energy have helped boost the project.
"So far we've heard nothing but good things," Vance said. "We feel like the community has been very appreciative and supportive of our efforts. It's really gratifying."
And while Bates pointed out indoor markets are notoriously more difficult to run that outdoor markets, he and the Foodchester board says everything is on track so far.
Bates has been working with vendors to ensure a good variety of products is available each week and Vance noted Foodchester is also aiming "to work with local businesses to take advantage of the increased traffic that the market has been generating."
Said Vance, "We see the success of the market as a great opportunity to help further Pleasantville's reputation as a destination for film, art, music, great food, and unique shopping."
Bates said he would also like to see the market duplicate the scale created by the former Community Markets-run Briarcliff Indoor Market.
"I think we have some number targets we're hoping to reach but really, if we see that people are coming to the market in the dead of winter, meeting friends they haven't seen in weeks, buying lots of amazing food, and doing it all with big smiles on their faces," Vance stated, "I think we'll consider it a success."
The Pleasantville Indoor Farmers' Market opens at 9 a.m. on Saturday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. For more information about the market and/or to see weather-related closings information, visit Foodchester's website.