The fortunes of farmers are by nature a bit unpredictable, and that’s been true for the East Williston Farmers Market on the Village Green in its first month of business.
“It’s been up and down. I didn’t do a lot of advertising,” said Mary McPhillips, the proprietor of Three Castles Gardens in East Williston.
A few regular shoppers stopped by as she talked about the business last Friday. The East Williston Village Board gave McPhillips approval earlier this year to run the market each Friday from 5 p.m. until dark through the summer. Both the board and McPhillips viewed the venture as a pilot program.
Some of the business has come from commuters getting off at the East Williston Long Island Rail Road station, and some of the business has been from drive-by customers. But most of the business has been generated by word of mouth with people who’ve heard about the farm stand stopping by to browse and buy.
“A lot of people from Williston Park come over,” McPhillips said.
In fact, she’s been approached about taking a booth in the Williston Park Street Fair, and said she’s inclined to do it.
Her produce varies from week to week, depending on what’s in season and which organic farms she’s been visiting. Last week, she had blueberries from Briarmere Farms in Riverhead and an enticing selection of fresh carrots, turnips, leaks, donut peaches from New Jersey, organic corn, oriental eggplant, Japanese cucumbers and a variety of breads from the Kenyer Baker in East Islip.
“Everybody loves the bread. People are liking the produce as well,” McPhillips said.
Apart from supplying some of the produce at her weekly farmstand on the Village Green, McPhillips’ Three Castles Gardens supplies a local church with produce for its food pantry. She supplements her own produce with produce from Bernadette Martin, another local organic farmer, and Garden of Eve in Riverhead.
But whatever she sells, McPhillips emphasizes that all her produce is very fresh and “strictly organic.”
The original idea was to maintain the farmstand on the Village Green through the summer, but McPhillips anticipates a slow August and said she’d be willing to keep the market going into September, if the village board is amenable to that idea.