Nestled on the large grassy circle at the very center of the town in Montauk is an unlikely site for a world-class farmer’s market. But the mixture of passionate East End farmers and local artisanal food producers combine with an informed and enthusiastic public to create a uniquely authentic experience.
If you can get there early enough to have first pick of the daily haul, it’s possible you’ll find yourself in a salty mist before it gives way to a bright Atlantic summer day. Come mist, rain or summer heat, this dedicated collection of purveyors does it for the pure love of the game.
Weighing in at 30+ purveyors, it’s an impressive farmer’s market by any standard, allowing visitors to source their menu from last night’s fresh catch, artisan pasta, exotic dried mushrooms, tasty wines from Long Island and an endless array of farm fresh vegetables from local lands.
Market favorite Balsam Farms brings their harvest from fields in Amangansett and Sagaponack providing an eyeful of color. They anchor one corner of the market right next to perpetually busy Horman’s Best Pickles.
Nearby, David Falkowski of Open Minded Organics from Sag Harbor comes to market with enough tomatoes and varied mushrooms to keep the town makin’ sauce for days.
Most if not all of the vendors have deep roots in this area and great affection for the East End. Montauk resident, Tracey “the Night Owl Baker,” bakes her completely natural sourdough bread in the kitchen at Gosman’s Gourmet Fish Market.
Local Chef, Roy Wohlars, a native Long Islander from the North Fork and vet of modern Montauk staple South Edison, now spends his time delivering on a reputation for fresh food at the exceptionally popular Ruschmeyer’s.
He gets much of the restaurant’s weekend inventory from the market, including fresh summer fruit from Davis Peaches Farm and billows of beer bread made with Montauk Brewing Company’s Stout from Carissa’s Breads…who, might also be able to sell you a John’s Drive-In ice cream sandwich on her impossibly delicious lemon and lavender focaccia squares.
Roy claims that about 70% of his produce come direct from another market favorite, Amber Waves Farm.
Cofounders of Amber Waves Farm, Amanda Merrow and Katie Baldwin, have been with the Montauk Farmer’s Market since inception, which in 2009 was also their first year breaking ground growing all manner of edibles.
“It is so fun to see people get excited about food,” said Merrow, who delights that the evolving sophistication of the patrons has kept pace with the exceptional growth of the market.
“It started with just a handful of purveyors and a few card tables,” she continued, and explains that the enjoyment of personal engagement with consumers and other purveyors make the undertaking all the more worth it.
This is certainly a market that can turn a home cook into a hero. Finish a dish with some Arlotta-flavored olive oil, crumble some silky Mecox Bay Dairy cow’s milk cheese, both from just up the road in Watermill or sprinkle artisanal sea salt evaporated from local waters courtesy of the Amagansett Sea Salt Co.
A container of fresh cut dark opal basil or daikon radish micro-greens from Good Water Farms will not disappoint either, while punching up a summer salad or aromatically decorating your fresh grilled fish dish.
The magic of the Montauk Farmer’s Market can be experienced on Thursdays from 9 AM to 2 PM starting June 11 through October 1, plus during the Annual Fall Festival on October 10 and 11 on the Village Green in the center of town.
Facebook — Montauk Farmer’s Market
Words by Rudi Ehrlich — @rurunnyc