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Grand Island looks to Ithaca as model as it prepares to launch farmers market in August

While trying to figure out how best to create a farmers market on Grand Island, Supervisor Nathan D. McMurray hit the road, literally.

Traveling throughout upstate New York and Southern Ontario this summer, McMurray has spent his weekends figuring out who has the best farmers market, and why.

The best so far?

“Ithaca,” he said. “They had great vendors, great signs, well-maintained displays and a good balance of items.”

McMurray’s goal is to make Grand Island a destination for farmers and customers.

“I want a world-class farmers market on Grand Island,” he said.

While it may take a while to reach that point, McMurray said, the town does hope to get its farmers market up and running during August. Once it gets going, the market will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays at the Town Commons, 2255 Baseline Road.

The town is actively seeking vendors, said Councilwoman Beverly A. Kinney. That effort is being led by Assistant to the Supervisor Cyndy Montana. Because it’s late in the season, it may be difficult to get some vendors, Kinney said.

“A lot of the farmers are probably committed,” she said.

However, Kinney said, the town is looking to start small with the market, and grow it over time.

McMurray said there’s no shame in going to see what other towns are doing, and implementing it in Grand Island.

“If you find something that works, you don’t start over,” he said. “You copy it and make it better.”

While the Ithaca Farmers Market may be the best he has visited, McMurray said, he takes something away from every market he sees. Recently, he visited a small, rural market. While not as polished as some of the bigger markets he has visited, one of the vendors sautéed beet stems in butter for him over an open fire.

“It was the best thing I’ve ever had,” he said. “There’s that element, too. It may be really grungy, but it still has really cool stuff.”

Eventually, McMurray said, he would like the market to move to the waterfront, or near Kelly’s Country Store on Grand Island Boulevard.

Interested vendors can contact Montana at 775-9600, Ext. 658, or by email at cmontana@grand-island.ny.us.

email: mcanfield@buffnews.com

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