Profile: Jamestown Public Market

      Posted On: August 5, 2022

For #FarmersMarketWeek, we are featuring a few amazing markets across the nation that are doing impactful work in their communities. Today, we are featuring Jamestown Public Market in Jamestown, NY.

Jamestown Public Market – Photo by Rowen & Eden Photography

1. What is the mission of your market?  

Our mission is to build the city of Jamestown’s local food system through the promotion of locally grown raised and crafted foods and goods, the encouragement of a healthy, nourishing lifestyle, and the offering of related educational and economic opportunities. 

2. Where are your farmers from? Where is the market located?  

All of our farmers are from Chautauqua or Cattaraugus County; most travel an average of only 15 miles from farm to market. Our market is located in Jamestown, NY, the largest ‘city’ in our county. We have a population of around 28,000 and are surrounded by more rural towns and hamlets. Our county was once home to the most farms in New York state; however, due to an aging farmer population and various factors, our small family farms are dwindling. 

In 2021, our city worked with us to move the market to a prominent downtown street block, so we can’t be missed! We are two blocks from the National Comedy Center, a nationally recognized museum that is the heart of our city. 

3. Tell us about the history of your market and its growth.

Our market has been around in some form or another for over 100 years. Originally, the market was located in the middle of the city and was composed of farmers and other growers and their carts of goods. It was very popular with immigrants, primarily Swedish and Italian. In 1913, the city built a permanent structure in Brooklyn Square of Jamestown and housed various stalls for farmers to display and sell their products. This closed permanently in 1965 due to competition from newly formed grocery stores. 

Between 1977 and 2006 the Jamestown Public Market existed throughout the city, often moving to new locations. In 2006, the market found a home with a local non-profit and began to build out to include local artisan vendors. In 2020, the Jamestown Public Market set out as its own organization, currently partnering with local church St. Luke’s Episcopal, as it works to build its capacity with the goal of becoming its own non-profit. Since 2017, the market has seen sales increase by over 300%.  

4. How has your market helped your local community?  

Our market works to embody our values of being a space for everyone. We currently accept SNAP benefits, WIC/Senior Farmers Market vouchers, as well as host our own children’s program, SPROUTs. We welcome farmers and artisans of all backgrounds and work to emphasize our state’s unique offerings, including working closely with the local Amish community. We also work with several of our farmers purchasing local wholesale produce that we offer through our Mobile Market, which visits low-income areas of our city. Much of Jamestown lacks fresh food access and we work to service over 400 individual customers each week at our local library, senior centers, and health centers. 

5. What are some achievements or milestones of your market that you are most proud of?  

In 2017, we received the USDA’s Farmers Market Promotion Program grant, which allowed us to establish our Mobile Market in 2018. We are also extremely proud of the relationships we have built with our local small business community. In 2020, one of our vendors opened its first brick-and-mortar location, Art Cloth + Craft! We continue to do what we can to support both our vendors and the surrounding restaurants and retail shops. 

In 2020, we created a CSA program, working with our farmers to bring a new opportunity for customers to purchase their products. We also took the helm of the GROW Jamestown community gardens, and work to offer programming that educates the public on food sovereignty.

6. What support do you need to thrive?  

We need the support of our local community the most through donations, volunteer support, and shopping at the market. Our community has truly shown us that they value what we bring to Jamestown, and we would not exist without our amazing farmers, vendors, and customers. 

Currently, we continue to explore larger funding opportunities that can help us establish our market as its own 501c3 organization! 

7. What makes your market special? Are there any themes or unique products that your market offers? 

We feel that our market is special because it is a true melting pot of Jamestown’s history and local culture. Western New York is an amazing place to grow so many wonderful fruits and vegetables. Chautauqua County is known for its grape vineyards, as well as dairy products. We love working with our local Amish and Hispanic communities to offer unique shopping experiences and products, such as handmade rosaries and fresh baked goods. We are the perfect area for fresh maple syrup and honey. We love the market because we can connect with each member of our community over the one thing we all have in common: a need for delicious food! Our community has truly shown us that our market can thrive, and we are so thankful for the growth we have achieved!  

Learn more about Jamestown Public Market on their website and Instagram. Photos by Rowen & Eden Photography.