Amagansett Food Institute to Take Over Farmers Market

Several months after a new tenant for the Amagansett Farmers Market was expected to be named, the Peconic Land Trust and the Amagansett Food Institute, a nonprofit organization of farmers and food producers, announced on Monday that the latter has signed a lease to operate the market. The institute plans an Aug. 1 opening of the longtime landmark on the hamlet's Main Street.

The market, which will be open daily through the summer, will offer produce and other products made almost exclusively by East End and New York State farmers, fishers, vintners, and other food producers. The institute's members include Amber Waves Farm, Bhumi Farms, Carissa's Breads, the Amagansett Sea Salt Company, Dock to Dish, Food Pantry Farm, Balsam Farms, the Milk Pail, and Quail Hill Farm. South Fork Kitchens, the Institute's commercial incubator kitchen at Stony Brook Southampton, will also contribute to the market's offerings.

A mission to educate the community and visitors is among the institute's goals for the market, with programming, events, and educational materials integrated throughout the 3,000-square-foot space. The programming, according to a statement issued on Monday, will be aimed at reintroducing seasonality and a more traditional relationship with food as well as issues including health and nutrition, food waste, food insecurity, and sustainability.

"It's going to be quite different from what has been there before in that the vast bulk is going to be local," Kathleen Masters, the institute's executive director, said on Monday. "We're really excited about being able to have an outlet for goods produced in our incubator kitchen, and we're already hearing from a lot of other East End producers about the wonderful products being made here and who are interested in getting their products to the market. We're very excited about that."

Eli Zabar's lease on the space expired in November, and the land trust put out a request for proposals seeking another tenant for a three-year term, with a three-year renewal option. While it was known that the company would not be returning, and that the institute had been selected as the new lessee, discussions with the town as to what activities would be permitted on the site, such as cooking, caused a long delay in the announcement. Those discussions are ongoing, Ms. Masters said.

The Amagansett Farmers Market was opened in 1954 by Ellen Struk, known as Pat. In 2008, the trust, a nonprofit organization that works to preserve working farms and natural land, announced an agreement under which it would lease the property from Margaret de Cuevas, who had purchased it from Ms. Struk for $5.5 million. At that time, the Town of East Hampton purchased development rights on 7.56 acres of the 9.33-acre property. Amber Waves Farm, a not-for-profit educational farm with a community supported component serving 150 members, as well as farmers markets and restaurants, occupies that land.

Mr. Zabar had been the lessee since the trust's 2008 agreement with Ms. de Cuevas, his first lease expiring in November 2011. After the second lease expired, the trust issued a request for proposals, with the institute selected from among five applicants.

Throughout the winter and spring, the structure was in some disrepair. A new awning was recently installed after the previous one collapsed under the winter's heavy snowfall. Railings on the back deck were replaced, and parts of the roof and driveway were repaired. "For the purposes of running a farm stand," Ms. Masters said, "it's in reasonable shape."