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Troy Farmers Market to expand, still leaves out local family farm

April 26, 2019 11:41 PM

TROY - The Riverfront Farmers Market kicks off a week from Saturday. Organizers said they're adding over a dozen new vendors this year, but owners of a local farm said they've been applying to get into the market for over 16 years and have been denied every time.

Paul and Kailyn Engelke said every year they are told the market already has enough produce vendors.

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"It is unfortunate because it is our city,” Kailyn Engelke said. “If we were in the farmers market we would be the closest farm to River Street to be participating in that market."

The Engelke’s said they’re constantly getting customers at their farm looking for things they carry that can't be found at the market.

In an effort to become vendors at the market, the Engelkes look for unusual varieties of vegetables and flowers, like black petunias and Chioggia beets. Years ago Paul's father even invested in producing duck eggs when he learned that might give him a competitive edge over other applicants.

They said none of it has worked.

"So you know they do say that we have all similar products but at the same time the community is telling us different," Kailyn said. "They’re finding products here at our farm stand on our farm that they don’t have down at the waterfront market."

Kailyn said she understands the concern about over saturating a category. She said she has seen instances where markets fail due to that exact situation.

"So I understand where they're coming from and the reason that they're giving us but at the same time we're going on longer than a decade like I said it's been two generations,” Kailyn said. “There's been farms that have left the market at some point there should have been some space for us to join them."

Over 1,500 people have signed a petition on Change.org, calling for the market to allow the Engelke's to operate there.

"I know that they turn down hundreds of applications every year,” Kailyn said. “I know of many other farms, huge farms, who get denied every year as well. They keep applying but the one thing that stands out about us is that we are right here. We are from Troy you know this is our community."

The Engelke's have heard rumors about politics leading to rejections when Paul's father still operated the farm and was applying to be a vendor. But they say that shouldn't matter, because the farmers market is an independent entity, and they're running the farm now.

"It's just a shame because it's our city, it's our community,” Kailyn said. “We were born and raised in Troy it's a wonderful farmers market. There's great vendors down there with beautiful products and we just want to be a part of it."

Troy Riverfront Farmers Market President Zack Metzger did issue a statement saying he understands the Engelke's frustration.  He went on to say:

"One of the things we try not to do is saturate a particular category, because it can be to the detriment of the customer and also to the other vendors as well."

Metzger said they haven't allowed a new produce vendor to join the market in years.

Credits

Emily Burkhard

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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