Patti Wood began the Port Washington Organic Farmers Market 19 years ago in an effort to enhance her community’s quality of life through people’s stomachs.
“I went to May Neuberger, who was the town supervisor, and talked her into it,” said Wood, a founder of Grassroots Environmental Education. “It was very easy to do.”
Now, the farmers market, which is held on Saturdays from June through October, sees about a dozen organic vendors each week with a supply ranging from Italian meats, fresh vegetables, a variety of flavored pickles, flowers and pottery.
And if one is lucky, she might be there at the highly sought-after moment when Wood’s famous blueberry muffins are hot from the oven.
Since the market sells organic food that is free of pesticides and chemicals, the produce selection is dependent on what is currently growing on Long Island, Wood said, but shoppers have learned to adjust.
Nobody comes to the farmers market in the fall requesting bananas, Wood said. Shoppers are learning the growing seasons, she said, such as strawberries ripen in June while winter squash isn’t ready until mid or late September.
Wood said the market also serves to support sustainable farmers.
“We wanted to give them an outlet in Port Washington while enhancing the quality of life in our community,” she said.
Wood said all good at Port’s farmers market is sold directly by the farms. Wood said this provides a unique opportunity for patrons to converse with the producer of the food.
She said speaking to customers allows the farmer to explain the harvest, such as why this batch may be different from others in the past.
In addition to providing organic food to the Port Washington community, Wood said the aim of the farmers market is to provide recipients of government assistance better access to high-quality organic foods.
Port’s farmers market accepts coupons from the Farmers Market Nutrition Program, a state program that gives assistance to beneficiaries of the Women, Infants and Children and the Commodity Supplemental food programs to purchase locally grown food from farmers markets and farm stands.
Wood said she loves seeing people leaving the farmers market with armloads of produce and also how the market serves as a gathering spot.
She said a makeshift cafe at the market has served as a de facto meeting spot for locals to spend their Saturdays, Wood said.
“The cafe has turned into something quite wonderful,” she said and described residents bringing newspaper clippings to share and discuss with old friends and new friends.
The Port Washington Organic Farmers Market wouldn’t be possible without the help of her husband, Doug Wood, who puts up parking signs the night before and arrives before 6 a.m. on Saturday mornings to clean up the dock from any events the night before, Wood said.