Idea: A farmers' market for Washington Park?

washington park lake house exterior

Ryan emails, not so much with a question as an idea to float (link added):

As we enter outdoor farmers' market season, I have been thinking that the Washington Park Lakehouse would be the perfect spot for a weekend summer farmer's market. Aside from the beauty of the park in summer, the Lakehouse is well equipped to hold markets (as evidenced by the Half Moon Market, which is a welcome addition), and there is plentiful parking around the park. On top of that the development in Park South will likely add thousands more residents within a few blocks of the park over the next several years. Not to take anything away from the other summer outdoor markets in the area, because they are great, but Washington Park seems to be screaming for a farmers' market. If you have any insight, I'd love to hear it.

Ryan had asked if this idea had ever come up before -- we're almost certain it has in some way, but as we were thinking about it we couldn't point to a specific instance.

A quick take on the idea: A farmers' market in the park might work, though there would be organizational (Who runs its?) and logistical (What about Park Playhouse?) issues to address. The overall question we come back to is whether there's enough room for another entry in the already crowded local farmers'-market market. It's not just a matter of there being enough customers to go around, it's also about whether there are enough farms with the resources necessary to show up each week at an Albany market and contribute to a critical mass of vendors. If you're a small farm, showing up at more than a few markets each weekend is probably a big stretch.

That said, there's also the possibility of induced demand. Would an Albany market add customers who wouldn't otherwise be shopping at farmers' markets? Would that make it worthwhile for more farms to participate or expand?

Like Ryan, we're curious to hear your thoughts.


Love that idea! Big fan of the Troy market but its quite a haul from where I live, would love a closer alternative

Washington Park would definitely have a great captive audience. Outdoors in front of the playhouse would work well and not interfere with the activities inside during the summer. Would be good to offer prepared foods too, for picnicking or home bbqs.

I always thought about developing a farmer / artisan market at St. Joe's on Ten Broeck. The space and side yard would be a wonderful place for a market and could well serve the neighborhood and new residents of the downtown.

We could easily commandeer some vacant lots to use as vegetable growing spaces to supply the market with super local produce.

Living in Center Square I would CERTAINLY enjoy a farmers market in the Washington Park area. Especially if it were on weekends. The Empire State Plaza farmers market during the week is great, but not if you aren't a state worker and work out of area during the week. I've live in Albany for 6+ years and have never had a chance to go to the market at the plaza. I really think Albany would be able to have a successful weekend farmers market and Washington Park would be a great location.

I don't know if there are enough vendors to meet the demand with the existing markets in Troy and Schenectady doing so well, but I would ABSOLUTELY shop at a Washington Park farmers market. There are some good, smaller farmers markets scattered around Albany, but I'd love to see something a little larger and more centrally located (and in a really charming setting). The farmer's market on the Empire State Plaza is nice, but it always gives the impression that it exists for the convenience of the state employees and not the residents of the surrounding communities.

Plus, it would attract people who would love to be able to walk to a market from their neighborhoods.

It's not a bad idea. However I would encourage everyone to think creatively… Can it be like a farmers market - but more? Like a farmers market plus something else? I visited Albany the weekend of the recent market there and really enjoyed seeing so many people in the park on a weekend. What could be done to set it apart from the other markets? Schenectady is far enough away from Albany that I think you could have it on a Sunday and drop people who may go to Troy on a Saturday but can't or who want an option of a different day. I don't know if the vendors/farmers consistent it but why not encourage more of that exist? That's a win-win. Lots to ponder...


As stated a few times already, the Plaza Weds market is not at all convenient unless you work downtown. I LIVE downtown, and would love a weekend farmers market in the park.

If there are not enough produce/food venders, consider a crafter section - yarn, pottery, jewelry, locally produced craft items.

There is such a wealth of creativity in this area; it would be wonderful to have more than our terrific local foods available weekly at a farmers market.

And save a few spots to rotate small local non-profits into so they have an opportunity to market themselves.

I would love it. We live off of New Scotland and when we can make it to a Market we usually go to the Schenectady Green Market.

I think Washington Park is generally one of Albany's most under-utilized assets. Love the idea of a farmer's market, and why not make it year round?

We could also start a little simpler and just have food trucks in the park at lunch time during the week and throughout the weekends. Who wouldn't love to grab some Slidin' Dirty and sit on a park bench on a Saturday afternoon? Or a cold drink and ice cream after paying tennis or using the bike park? They seem to have/allow food trucks for certain events, but it boggles my mind that this isn't a frequent option.

While my husband and I enjoy the Troy Farmer's Market, being residents of Albany we don't really go as much as we like. A farmer's market we could walk to on the weekend together would be awesome! We would definitely go and go regularly! I hope farmers/organizers are seeing this and make it happen.

I love the idea of a farmers market for this beautiful and under-used building. I've no doubt there would be plenty of demand from surrounding neighborhoods. I think that having high quality food vendors would really help, too. The ESP market is great, especially for state workers, but the plaza is cut off from the city.

From what I hear, the Troy Farmers Market has more vendors that it can accommodate, and also very robust infrastructure and organization. I wonder if they could set up a Troy Farmers Market @ Albany...

Based on the number of farmers markets in the region, and I feel like (in Albany at least) you get a new small one popping up every season, that the "market" can accommodate a Troy Farm's Market style arrangement in Albany (I'm partial to the water front downtown, but Washington Park would also be grand). Especially if such a market operated on Sunday's, I think you could pull in those who couldn't make it somewhere else on a Saturday (which seems to be the popular day to host one region wide). I think as folks increasingly want to understand where their food is made and/or support local businesses and families, you will continue to see growth in our regional food shed and urban centers that can tap into this network; Albany is still late in grabbing a seat to the game, however.

Like others, I agree that the Halfmoon Market demonstrates the potential for Washington Park, which could adopt a hybrid food and craft market to tap into a need that seems to be there, particularly on the craft side.

All in all, there are a lot of opportunities for Washington Park, and while there is some red tape from local/state government that gunks up the wheels to make things happen, I think we only have ourselves (i.e. residents/citizens) to blame for not making it happen and can't expect city government to do it for us, especially given the fiscal constraints it faces to managed all else. Look at the Halfmoon Market, Oktober Fest in the Wareharehouse District, etc. All citizen/resident led, fostered, and blueprints for others to seize off of.

Maybe during an evening, like a Thursday or Friday night? All of the other big ones are on Saturday or Sunday, so doing it on a weekend would limit the options for vendors.

I definitely would want a weekend farmers market in Washington Park. As others have said, unless you work at the plaza, it's not really possible to stop at that during the week, so the options are normally Troy and Schnectady. I like Jason's idea of a Troy Farmers Market @ Albany (on a Sunday then).

But there are definitely going to be logistical issues. There are festivals and runs like every weekend in the park during the summer, including the plays. I would definitely say that having it in the lakehouse is a terrible idea (I went the to half moon market and while it was nice, it was way too crowded, that place is small).

I definitely think there is enough of a demand for a market though. Albany residents don't have a farmers market on the weekend in town to go to, we have to drive to neighboring towns.

It would be a great and welcome idea. I picture the stretch of road along the south side of the dog park between the park playhouse and the knox street promenade , or the promenade its self. Ample space and wont encroach on the other parks summer duties.

Albany doesn't really seem to give into its residents good idea's however.

Thanks for the article AOA. Glad to see that so many other people are interested in the idea of a market in Washington Park. I should mention that my girlfriend Mary is the one that brought the idea up to me the other day (she's the brains of the operation), so I am just the messenger.

Agreed with some of the other posters that Washington Park is underutilized (aside from some of the festivals and the summer play series), and I think that a market would be a step in the right direction. I like the idea of an organization with existing infrastructure (i.e. Troy Farmers' Market) taking the lead - that said I have no idea if they, or anyone else, would be interested in the concept. Interested in hearing more thoughts.

Yes! My husband and I near Washington Park in Albany and we've been hoping for years the lakehouse would start getting more use -- which is finally starting to happen!

Albany is the only major city in the area without a good weekend farmers market. There are some great weekday ones, but they cater to state workers, not residents. A weekend farmer's market in Washington Park would not only bring outsiders into Albany and into Washington Park, it would show that the city cares about folks who live in Albany and not just people who work here.

Only concern: if most farmers and artisans are in Troy Saturday and Schenectady on Sundays, would getting producers here be a problem? But if the Troy market does have more vendors than it can handle, as a comment above suggests, maybe it would be okay.

I don't see how the park is underutilized, (ever been there after work on a nice summer day?), but I love this idea. Especially the idea of a farmer's market on the weekend in Albany. While I'm usually able to get to the ESP market during the week by taking an extended lunch, relatively few people have this option. I completely agree with the other posters that while the Troy Farmers Market is fabulous, it can be a pain to get up to Troy, especially on the best day for sleeping in. (Okay, maybe that last part is just me.) Tess's idea of using the spot for crafts if enough local produce vendors cannot be found is great as well, but it's heartening to read that Troy may be overflowing.

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