Cooperstown Farmers' Market vies for award

ContributedThe Cooperstown Farmers’ Market is shown Saturday, Aug. 1.

A local farmers’ market is in the running for an award as the nation’s most essential farmers market. 

The Cooperstown Farmers Market is ranked as the top market in the state in an online contest run by the American Farmland Trust. 

The market, which is run by Otsego 2000, is ranked second in the Northeast and seventh nationwide as of Tuesday, Aug. 4. The contest allows only one vote per email address and ends Sept. 20. The market deemed most essential will get $1,000. The second and third place finishers will get prizes, too.

“We were number three nationally for a while, but then Napa (California) got up and running,” Otsego 2000 Executive Director Ellen Pope told The Daily Star during a phone interview Tuesday. “We hope we can get back up there. Certainly, there is plenty of time for people to vote for us.” 

The contest is designed to bring awareness to farmers and farmers’ markets as essential. 

“We think we are the best little market in the country, and we want to let everyone know about it,” Pope said. 

The Cooperstown market is an indoor market and is open all year, Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Tuesdays part of the year, from noon to 5 p.m. Pope said there are about 30 vendors and the market caters to local farms. 

“We see it as providing an essential service,” she said. 

Pope said the market did not miss a Saturday because of the coronavirus pandemic. She credits Otsego County Rep. Meg Kennedy, the vice chair of the county’s Board of Representatives and a vendor at the market, for lobbying the state to consider markets essential during the state’s “On Pause” shutdown. Then, to keep the doors open, the staff reinvented the market with safety protocols and a curbside service that has been a great success, Pope said. 

“With curbside service, it took us about two weeks in April to set it up online,” Pope said. “It has done about $17,000 since then a month in sales.” 

Shoppers can still come inside the market if they are wearing masks. There is a limit of 50 at any time, Pope said.

Pope said food insecurity has risen during the pandemic, and the market is helping to fight it. The market takes SNAP and the Leo Club of Cooperstown matches $15 for SNAP purchases to double the benefit. Vouchers from Otsego County’s Office for the Aging and the Cooperstown Food Pantry are also accepted and have been increasing in numbers this year, she said. 

“The markets have been more and more a lifeline to people,” Pope said 

Go to markets.farmland.org to vote in the contest or to www.otsego2000.org/cooperstown-farmers-market-and-agriculture/ for more about the market. 

Greg Klein, staff writer, can be reached at gklein@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7218.

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