On Saturdays since the end of 2020, Village Square, in downtown Glen Cove, has been home to local people supporting local businesses.
Resident Amy Peters, who operates the Sea Cliff Farmers Market, greets guests at the door and takes their temperature to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Inside there are many smiling faces selling food, jewelry, fragrances, crystals, CBD oil and more.
John Hunter, the owner of Sea Cliff Hemp Company, who has taken part in the market for three years, said he was enjoying operating in Glen Cove. “I’ve been meeting a lot of new people, seeing a lot of fresh faces,” he said. “Being in this promenade is nice.”
Another Sea Cliff business owner, Catherine Epstein, who was selling crystals on the other side of the room, said she had also enjoyed coming on Saturdays. Her business, Living Lotus Group, operated in a storefront on Sea Cliff Avenue from 2004 to 2015. She specializes in meditation, healing work, healing crystal classes and workshops.
“It has been so wonderful,” Epstein said of the Farmers Market. “Everybody has been amazing. The support from the community has been so uplifting and positive.”
Last Saturday’s market was the final one of the season. In June it will relocate to the Beacon, at 100 Garvies Point Road in Glen Cove. It will have 30 to 35 weekly vendors, and will be called the Deep Roots Farmers Market.
Some may wonder how, exactly, the Sea Cliff Farmers Market ended up in Glen Cove. It was originally run by Donald Kavanaugh and Garry Tornberg, but was inactive for some time until Peters took it over in 2015. “I went to visit with Don and asked him how they worked it and how they did it,” she said. “They had been going all the way out to the East End to purchase vegetables.”
Peters said she wanted to buy from farms in Nassau County, like Youngs Farm, in Glen Head, and Restoration Farm, in Old Bethpage. “I basically did the same thing,” she said. “I would purchase from these farms and bring the produce out and put it out. And I went to the Village of Sea Cliff, and I was able to secure a permit to use Central Avenue.”
At first it was just Peters with a table of produce under a tent. The following year, she was no longer able to use the street, so she began operating the market at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. “Again, it was just me, and I had a couple of tables set up there,” she said. “I started to cultivate some other vendors who started to participate. One of the first vendors I had was Conscious Kitchen, a Sea Cliff business.”
In 2017, Peters was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I started going through treatment — chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries — and I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to do the market the way I had been doing it,” she recounted. “I went to my friends at Restoration Farm, in Bethpage, and asked if maybe they might be interested to do the produce at the market that year. They said they would inquire with some of their volunteers if anybody might be interested in doing it.”
Those volunteers manned the stand, but Peters remained in charge, working to find more vendors. “In 2018 we had more vendors, and by 2019 we had 17 vendors,” she said. “It started to get pretty crowded in the courtyard of St. Luke’s.”
She asked St. Boniface Martyr Church if she could use their field near Sea Cliff Avenue, and got the OK. Then, as she was operating the indoor market at Creative Arts Studio in Sea Cliff during the winter of 2020, the pandemic hit.
“We shut down,” Peters said. “From May I started making preparations to open the outdoor market at St. Boniface, and I started to do some messaging on social media about it, an email newsletter and such, but then the mayor of Sea Cliff reached out to me.”
Then Mayor Edward Lieberman asked her how she could operate a farmers market during the pandemic. “I said, ‘Well, New York state has deemed farmers markets as essential businesses, and they’ve issued guidance on how to operate safely,’” Peters said, sending the information to Lieberman so he could see for himself. “He said that the village had decided that, legally, I had to apply for a special-use permit.”
Before she could appear before the Sea Cliff Planning Board, however, St. Boniface withdrew the application. The market had no home — until Horman’s Family Pickles, of Glen Cove, a regular market vendor, offered its pickle factory parking lot on Garvies Point Road.
“We ended up opening June 20,” Peters said. “We started with 10 vendors, and we were able to operate safely under Covid guidance. It ended up being a great experience and a great location.”
Then Ylisa Kunze, director of Glen Cove community engagement at RXR Realty, reached out to Peters, asking if she would be interested in holding the market on a new development in Glen Cove. That worked out perfectly last season, and Peters said she was looking forward to her next chapter with RXR as the Deep Roots Farmers Market.
“It had been the Sea Cliff Farmers Market for a long time, but because of Covid and subsequent events of not being able to get back to Sea Cliff, I thought it didn’t make sense to keep the Sea Cliff name,” Peters said. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to say the Glen Cove Farmers Market, because nothing is ever permanent.”
Peters wanted to think of a name she could take wherever the market operated it, and ultimately she was inspired by a graphic from the State of Washington Farmers Market Association that depicts carrots in the ground, representing the support of local farmers and cultivating communities. The graphic reads, “These Roots Run Deep.”
“I’ve been an opponent of big-box shopping and online, Amazon-style shopping for a long time, and I’ve always felt like it’s really important to shop local,” Peters said. “That was my [inspiration] for starting the farmers market. It was to provide local businesses with a venue, upstart businesses.”
Adam and Ian Siegal, of Glen Cove, founded a candle company, called Trubee Hill, last November. “We’ve been doing this farmers market since Dec. 1,” Adam said. “It’s been awesome. We’ve been getting a lot of support, and it’s been growing a lot faster than we thought it was going to.” And they are both looking forward to the market’s next chapter, at Garvies Point.
“The market is rolling beyond my imagination,” Peters said. “The response from the community has been very positive. We’re growing it, and we’re doing the best we can.”