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No Winter Farmer's Market for Babylon Village

Mayor says market might take away from business district during the heavy shopping, winter months.

Update (8:30 p.m.):

Graepel has released the following statement via the Babylon Village Farmer's Market Facebook page at 7:53 p.m.:

"We would like to address the events that have taken please over the last few days regarding the farmers' market. I misunderstood the Mayor regarding a year round market in Babylon Village. After meeting with the Mayor today, we were able to resolve any and all miscommunications regarding this situation. 

I would like to let everyone know that the Mayor is not against the farmers market, he is there almost every week and enjoys it. I apologize for saying he was anti-farmers market, clearly this is not true.

As this season comes to a close we would like to Thank The Village & The Mayor for a great market. With just a few weeks left, we hope to see you Sunday!"

Original Story (5 p.m.):

Babylon Village will not be hosting a Winter Farmer's Market this year, according to village officials and market organizers.

The Babylon Village Farmer's Market, which currently runs every Sunday morning at the Long Island Rail Road parking lot at 8 a.m. since July 2nd, is still organized to run until November 16th.

"We said we want to stick with a summer Farmer's Market," said Mayor Ralph Scordino to Patch. "We have not investigated the results of this summer's market yet either."

Lona Graepel, the market manager for the Babylon Village Farmer's Market, said she presented the mayor with a proposal for an indoor farmer's market during the winter months about six weeks ago. She said, in an open letter posted on the market's and Babylon Village Patch's Facebook page, the mayor had decided against the winter market. Scordino said that he and the village's farmer's market committee had discussed the idea and decided against it.

"We don't want an arts & crafts fair," said Mayor Scordino, noting the lessened amount of produce in winter months. "It could take away from our village stores. I don't want to take away from our Business District." The village did invite Graepel to look into nearby areas for the winter, including West Islip and West Babylon.

"We didn't want to do that because we've been in this one location all this time," Graepel said to Patch. "People get used to where to find us."

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Graepel said she then sought the support of community residents and business owners, collecting over 200 signatures on a petition to the village to reconsider. According to Graepel, a recent phone call soon after between her and the mayor turned sour.

"He implied that he was [to] close the market before the end of the season," she wrote. The mayor denied this claim, noting the market would remain open until its November 16th end date.

"We had already decided against a winter market," said Scordino. "We won't move forward until we've investigated the market's effects further."

Graepel said the Long Island Farmer's Market, which supports the village's market, had been running Winter Markets for at least three years. Produce that could be sold includes carrots, potatoes, squash, beats and other root vegetables.

"You don't stop growing in the winter," she said. "It's a limited number of produce – you don't see what you see in an August market at a Winter market." Graepel did add that artisans, baked goods and dairy goods would also be a part of the market.

Graepal said two locations in the village – the American Legion post and the Masonic temple, according to her letter – has already offered their buildings for use and were ready to go come this winter.

"All I was trying to do was establish the residents wanted a winter market," she told Patch. Graepal added that she had found studies that show the mayor's concern – business traffic – increases during the market days.

"I don't see how a once-a-week Farmer's Market for five hours would affect businesses open seven-days-a-week," she said.

Patty Vorillas, president of the Babylon Village Chamber of Commerce, said she believes the mayor has the best interest of the village in mind.

"I love the Farmer's Market and its an asset to the village, but I was also concerned with the product for the winter," said Vorillas. "It's a good idea [the winter market], as long as it doesn't affect our merchants."

yankeewatcher October 20, 2012 at 11:03 AM
We live in American where free trade is supposed to be allowed. Your Mayor is close minded, much sympathy to you. We have to be food independent year round, and businesses come and go in the private sector, not as a result of a mayor. He should be removed from office for putting one business over another.
Jane Lynn Davidson October 20, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Free trade yes, but does that mean I can stand on Deer Park Avenue in the Village and hawk sweaters in front of a clothing store? A farmers market is an open air summer thing. Indoors year round changes the concept, and then it should be another business that pays the same taxes as existing food stores in the village. Businesses come and go--we'd rather not see empty store fronts, similar to where Waldbaums was on Sunrise Highway in West Babylon. Put the Farmers Market there and that will solve 2 problems. And, I think that is what the Mayor meant.
elaine October 21, 2012 at 11:57 PM
the idea of using the farmer's market in a closed space during the winter is an absolutely stellar idea! While the village has plenty of stores that come and go on their own without "competition" for items such as fresh produce. The idea of housing such a market within space such as the legion hall which is empty is stellar. They host breakfast on the weekend and those that attend can bring fresh produce home and so can those of us that go to church and walk buy to visit the stores. Open your mind and think more globally not just like a person that may not think to buy root vegetables during cold weather. I always support the village stores - even in snowstorms for I'll walk to town and get chinese, etc. to bring them income for the day.
Regina Della Penna October 29, 2012 at 01:23 AM
The market actually continues until Sunday, November 18. I think a winter market would have been a boon to the local merchants, not a drawback. This village is not worthy of a market because they think like sheep and have provincial and closeminded leadership. Let the market go where it will be appreciated...you're not likely to see them return in the Summer after this ridiculous objection!

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