Written by Randy Stephens Saturday, 14 September 2013 00:00
Farmingdale’s Main Street has always offered an intriguing balance of youth and tradition. Popular hangouts like the Library Café (named after the library that occupied the space until 1998) comfortably co-exist with mainstays like the half-century-old meat market and ice cream parlor. A strong bond between town residents and business owners allow Farmingdale’s center of commerce to evolve without being stripped of its classic architecture and iconic storefronts.
A Taste of Long Island is part of the newer generation of Main Street occupants, and owners Courtney and Jim Thompson pride themselves on reinforcing strong relationships with the surrounding community. They assist over sixty local businesses in the production, sale, and management of all-natural products.
They also teamed up with Schneider’s Farms in Melville to bring the “Eat Local L.I.” farmers market to the Main Street parking lot. Since last summer, every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. pedestrians can sample products, chat with local vendors, and enjoy the shade their tents provide. The market offers items like fresh bread, Long Island wines, and produce from Schneider’s Farms.
Produce is the centerpiece of any farmers market, and the Thompsons are passionate about quality. Unlike corporate-owned supermarkets, the farmers of Eat Local L.I. offer only fruits and vegetables currently in season, to ensure freshness.
“You have to operate seasonally. When you buy food that’s in season you are getting the best tasting and best quality produce—not the genetically modified or chemical versions sold in supermarkets,” Courtney said. “Eat Local L.I. is about supporting your neighbors, which is why we only sell produce that is grown here on Long Island.”
Some Farmingdale residents may remember A Taste of Long Island for its work after Hurricane Sandy. Keeping A Taste of Long Island open after the storm, Jim, Courtney, and their assistants worked through the night making freshly baked goods. The owners relied on connections with other local businesses to acquire milk, eggs, and other products when few other stores could obtain them.
At the market, customers are encouraged to build the same connections that benefited Jim and Courtney many months ago. Each stand is operated by local business owners who are selling their own products, and the no-pressure, buyer-friendly atmosphere helps build what Jim hopes is a “symbiotic relationship” between vendors and consumers.
“We know that everyone is busy,” Jim said. “You can get a better product for the same or less money here [rather than a grocery chain] just by making one stop.”
Farmers market products do not contain preservatives, so they don’t last as long as grocery-store produce. The market comes weekly so customers aren’t forced to overstock. Vendors help advise how long each product will typically last.