Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jola Szubielski, Lisa Koumjian 518-457-0752

January 12, 2017

State Agriculture Commissioner Reminds New Yorkers Farmersí Markets Are Open through Winter

Extended Season Markets Support Local Agriculture and Meet Consumer Demand for Fresh, Local Produce During Winter Months

Farmersí Markets Encouraged to Join FreshConnect Program to Boost Buying Power of SNAP Participants

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today reminded New Yorkers that dozens of farmers’ markets are open across the state through the winter season.  Winter markets provide shoppers the opportunity to buy farm-fresh foods and other products while supporting local farmers.  For a second year, fourteen winter markets are also issuing FreshConnect Checks, which allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to increase their buying power when they shop at farmers’ markets.  Additional markets are encouraged to join the program to provide a greater number of FreshConnect checks to people and families in need.

Commissioner Ball said, “This is a terrific time to shop at your local farmers’ market and enjoy all they have to offer.  Despite the cold weather, New York farmers have plenty of fresh produce and high-quality products available during the winter.  Our FreshConnect Checks also provide an added benefit for those in need and I encourage additional markets to join the program this season.”

There are more than 150 farmers’ markets, farm stands and mobile markets across the state that are open now, with additional markets set to open later this month and one scheduled to re-open on February 1.  The markets operate on varying days and times throughout the week and weekend to fit a variety of schedules.  They provide consumers with a wide selection of fresh vegetables and value-added goods such as craft beverages, all-natural skin care products, wool products, maple syrup and honey. 

Fourteen winter farmers’ markets are also participating in the FreshConnect program and additional markets have the option to join the program at any time.  These markets issue FreshConnect Checks, which provide a $2 incentive for every $5 in SNAP benefits spent, increasing the purchasing power of SNAP recipients by 40 percent. 

For the first time last year, low-income families had the opportunity to use these checks 12 months a year.  Previously, the checks were only available at participating markets during the spring and summer.  Although the checks are issued at select markets, they may be redeemed at any of the more than 150 markets currently open, or the more than 750 farmers’ markets and farm stands open throughout the year.

Find a complete list of farmers’ markets, farm stands and mobile markets across New York State here.

The following winter markets are participating in the FreshConnect Checks Program: 

Capital Region
Empire State Plaza Farmers Market (Albany County)
Saratoga Farmers Market (Saratoga County)
Schenectady Greenmarket (Schenectady County)
Veggie Mobiles Markets (Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady Counties)

Central New York
CNY Regional Market (Onondaga County)
Syracuse Farm Fresh Mobile Market (Onondaga County)

Finger Lakes
Brighton Farmers Market (Monroe County)
Rochester Public Market (Monroe County)

Beacon Farmers Market (Dutchess County)
Cold Spring Farmers Market (Putnam County)
Kingston Winter Farmers Market (Ulster County)
Rhinebeck Farmers Market (Dutchess County)

Mohawk Valley
Oneida County Public Market (Oneida County)

Southern Tier
Broome County Regional Market (Broome County)

New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Samuel D. Roberts said, “SNAP recipients can continue to successfully stretch their household budgets while still accessing healthy, locally-grown food throughout the winter months thanks to FreshConnect Checks. This incentive not only helps families in need, it also helps connect our farmers to new, local customers. I encourage anyone to visit participating local markets and take advantage of these great deals.”

Diane Eggert, Executive Director of the Farmers’ Market Federation of New York said, “Farmers love the FreshConnect program. It brings more consumers to the farmers’ markets by boosting in their buying power. But it also gives the farmers the opportunity to sell more product and to share their knowledge and love for local food. It’s truly a win-win for everyone.”

Benjamin Vitale, Executive Director of the CNY Regional Market Authority said, “We are happy to provide the opportunity for year-round fresh food, along with the many other services that we offer for both our community and the agricultural sector that we serve. The extension of the FreshConnect Checks program in cooperation with SNAP allows us to provide even more benefits to our community and vendors.” 

In 2016, approximately 250,000 FreshConnect Checks were issued at farmers’ markets throughout the state.  The FreshConnect Program was launched by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2011 and is administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. FreshConnect-funded projects aim to ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of income, have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

2017 Press Releases