COLONIE — The Farmers’ Market kicked off last weekend at the library with the standard wares — fresh produce, flowers, homemade meals, soaps, butter, candles and spirits and honey — and also products specific to the times like masks and hand sanitizer.
Fazia Nenaty, who was born in Afghanistan and grew up in Schenectady, said she began making masks when the pandemic began hitting hard and has had a tough time keeping up with the demand.
“At first, I didn’t know how to thread a needle but I work with the hospitals as a senior health care provider and my clients died so I was sitting at home and didn’t know what to do so I started making masks,” she said at her booth on Saturday, June 13.
The cotton masks that take about 30 minutes to make are double sided, offering different designs or logos on each side — because many are choosing to make mandate fashionable rather than surgical — and they come with the all-important nose pinch. And, she said, she doesn’t make any money off the niche enterprise with 80 percent of the proceeds going to programs that feed the hungry and the other 20 percent going into materials to make more masks.
“I’m doing a good deed and it will pay off. I know that,” she said. “When you give once, God gives you 10 times more.”
The Farmers’ Market is in its 13th year and for the first is at the library instead of The Crossings, it’s not as big and everyone has to stay six feet apart and wear a mask. But, officials and vendors were pleased with the turnout and customers were happy to have something to do.
“There seems to be a lot of people here and they seem to be enjoying themselves,” said patron Kathy Sazynski. “I’ve been working from home so I don’t get out at all so this is a treat for me. It’s not The Crossings, but it’s still nice.”
Masks are mandated about everywhere and as the number of infections and deaths continue to shrink locally and statewide officials are struggling to convince people the virus is still out there. In order to open, the Farmerss Market had to follow state guidelines including masks and managing the foot traffic to promote social distancing, or having people all walk in the same direction. Also, there are no cooking demonstrations or food and beverage sampling and no forms of entertainment like clowns or music. There are no public bathrooms but hand sanitizing stations are available.
While the people are happy to get out and browse the booths on a Saturday morning, their four legged friends are not welcome.
“I think we have done everything we could as far as taping off six feet for vendors and putting up signage and we are making sure people wear masks while in the market and the vendors are wearing masks,” said Mary Berger, a member of the Farmers’ Market Committee. “We are pleased with the turnout. I think we got the message out to the community and the community wants and needs to get out in a safe environment.”
While the pandemic statistics are encouraging, with the eight-county Capital District set to hit Phase III of the state’s re-opening plan today, things are still very fluid. For the foreseeable future, the Colonie Farmers’ Market will be held at the library rather than at The Crossings.
“It’s good to be out here, finally,” said Giovanna Conti, of Burger’s Market Garden who was selling fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers. “Business has not been not too bad. I think since we are at a new location people aren’t as aware of it like they were at The Crossings but it’s been busy enough for the first week.”
She and Sazynski said they realize the virus is still out there but with the vast majority cooperating and happily following the precautions they are not worried about it, or at least the benefits of being at the market outweighs the risks.
“Everyone has masks on and everyone is spaced out and the customers are being very accommodating so it’s nice to be here and interacting with people again,” she said. “I’m really not that concerned about it. If it was that big of a concern, we would not be here.”
The Colonie Farmers’ Market is part of the state Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and accepts WIC and seniors’ Farmers’ market checks, which are provided to qualifying seniors age 60 and over by the town Senior Resource Department. The market will run every Saturday through Sept. 26 from 9 to 1 p.m.
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