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Ossining Woman Pushes Briarcliff to Eat and Shop Local

It should come as no surprise that Miriam Haas, who was once so determined to grow her own veggie garden that she rented a corner of someone's backyard to do so, later went on to single-handedly spread the idea of eating local around Westchester County.

“On weekends I would come and grow peanuts—I’ve always tried to keep my hand in the dirt,” remembered Haas of the years she spent renting the Armonk space.

She later traded those peanuts for spinach, lettuce and more when she created Community Markets , an organization working to efficiently advertise, plan and promote community farmer's markets since 1991.

But what is now a well-known company around town didn't happen overnight. In fact, the idea for Community Markets began with a smaller goal: to revitalize Ossining's downtown area with a local farmer's market.

To make it happen on a larger scale, Haas started out by pushing the concept through local channels. She attended town meetings and determined the logistics of where and how the market would happen. Haas has since been able to recruit New York, New Jersey and Connecticut farmers to sell produce, meats, cheeses and prepared foods at markets in Westchester, Rockland and the New York City boroughs.

So why do folks prefer to buy their fruits, veggies and even meats from local farmers instead of supermarkets?

For one, Haas believes a trip to the market provides a way for folks to get interactively involved with the towns in which they live.

“Many plan [a trip] as a social outing with neighbors. It’s nostalgic—people want to feel they belong to their town,” she said.

Plus, buying food from a farmer’s market allows residents to feel they’re supporting the livelihood of local farmers. They then have the opportunity to ask questions about where the produce came from and how it was grown.

Beyond her outdoor season, which runs from May until November, Haas' team also has a vital indoor winter season.

So even in the colder months, loyal supporters can visit Briarcliff, Mamaroneck and Park Slope, Brooklyn to enjoy meats, dairy, apples, pears and more.

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