On the waterfront where steamboats from Cayuga Lake used to dock, the Ithaca Farmer’s Market has successfully anchored itself and has transformed a wasteland into Steamboat Landing. Built entirely by volunteer labor, the market has developed a former debris site into a beautiful, thriving community gathering place. Visitors can shop for fresh, local produce, or choose a handcrafted gift. They can listen to music while savoring a wide variety of international foods, and sitting at the picnic tables along the waterfront.
The market first opened for business on Saturdays in 1973 as a venue for local growers, craftspeople and food vendors to sell their goods. The rapidly expanding market moved five times before settling in its current location. It opened a midweek market at the edge of Dewitt Park, in downtown Ithaca, and then added a Sunday market at Steamboat Landing. More recently a Thursday afternoon market at Dewitt Park and a Wednesday afternoon market at East Hill Plaza were added. A dock was built to accommodate local fishermen, people arriving by boat, and those who want a picturesque picnic spot.
The Ithaca farmer’s Market has continued to grow and prosper, often attracting well over 5,000 people a day. Today over 160 vendors sell at one or all of the five market days. What was originally an innovative way to sell local produce, crafts, and baked goods is now an Ithaca tradition.
1973-IFM opens on space near Agway.
1974-IFM moves to old airport runway near Hangar Theater.
1975- IFM moves to empty lot in Ithaca’s West End, erects rough frame structure.
1976- IFM opens midweek market on Ithaca Commons.
1985- IFM mid-week market moves to Dewitt Park.
1987- IFM market cooperative incorporates.
1988- IFM leaves the West End and moves to a parking lot at Cornell, then to an empty lot on Ithaca’s North Side and finally relocates to its current site and construction begins.
1988 -The market pavilion, styled after a 13th century European cathedral, is completed.
1990- Sunday market opens.
1996- First Rutabaga Curl is held at Ithaca Farmers Market.
1997- IFM dock was constructed.
1998-IFM celebrates its 25 year anniversary, Easy Entry program begins, and the flooring is completed.
2000 -IFM launches web initiative.
2003- IFM celebrates its 30th anniversary.
2004- Thursday afternoon markets begin at the pavilion.
2004 -The IFM is awarded a matching grant from NYS Ag and Markets to construct a small barn.
2005- The IFM is awarded a grant from Tompkins Area Development to install gutters on the pavilion.
2006 -The IFM is awarded a grant from Ag and Market for new signage.
2007- The Thursday market at the pavilion is discontinued.
2007-The market starts composting and switches to compostable utensils and bio bags in order to help the environment.
2009- Winter market starts at the Women’s Community Center.
2009- Thursday afternoon market starts at Dewitt Park.
2010- IFM starts a Facebook page.
2010- Ithaca Farmers’ Market signs a 20 year lease at Steamboat Landing.
2011- Ithaca Farmers’ Market is voted #2 Farmers’ Market in New York State.
2010- The Waterfront Trail connecting the Ithaca Farmers’ Market to Stewart Park is completed.
2012- Wednesday afternoon market starts across from East Hill Plaza.
2012- The winter market moves to The Space @ Greenstar.
2012- The Wednesday/Thursday vendor category was added to allow more area small businesses to participate at the market.
2013- The winter market season is extended an extra month thereby making the IFM a year-round market.
2013- Ithaca Farmers’ Market ties the Rochester Farmers’ market for Best Finger Lakes Farmers’ Market.
2013- Ithaca Farmers’ Market makes #9 on list of 101 Best Farmers’ Markets in America.
2013- IFM celebrates its’ 40th anniversary.