Vermont food and fun

WOODSTOCK, Vt. (WCAX) Jack Crowl opened the Woodstock Farmers Market in 1992. His son Patrick was an assistant that first year.

"What we were doing was pretty significant, it seemed to me, as the months rolled on," Patrick Crowl said. "It became an emotional tug, so I ended up staying."

That first year, the Farmers Market had a fire which caused significant damage. The family recovered, and after the fire, Patrick took over the business. Currently, Crowl has 75 employees, but at the time he took over, there were only five. That includes Amelia Rappaport, who started in the kitchen and gained more responsibilities as the years went on.

"I never lived in a small town before and I discovered that it's a real joy to know everybody who shops here and to see the same faces all the time. It's just become my home," Rappaport said.

About 65 percent of the inventory at the Woodstock Farmers Market is Vermont-made products. Elizabeth Feinberg's Amber Organic Toffee and Vicky Allard's savory jams and marmalade have displays in the store.

"It carries a lot of cache and people know that if they want to come and buy local and buy some of the best, then they come to Woodstock Farmers Market," Allard said. "So, to have our product in here and have it beautifully displayed, it just means a lot to us."

"People are really excited. They ask you, 'Are you at Woodstock Farmers Market?' 'Why yes, I am.' And it's this level of confidence that they suddenly have in my product, because they know I'm here," Feinberg said.

"My mantra is is local sourcing and helping the local economy and helping local farmers and helping local producers," Crowl said. "We really, really enjoy helping others get into the food scene and it means a lot to us."

For the last decade, Rolph and Maggie Schemmel have driven 45 minutes from New Hampshire to shop there.

"We discovered this place and just love coming here for all the fresh produce and the nice local meats," Rolph Schemmel said. "Came in for sandwiches today and we leave with a grocery bag full of things."

Things took a turn for the Farmers Market in 2011. Fifteen years after the fire, Tropical Storm Irene flooded the store. It came just shortly after a 1,000-square-foot expansion.

"It was pretty catastrophic," Crowl said. "Everything was turned upside down. Groceries on the floor. Things that you would never think would be able to be moved by anything were moved."

After some hard work by Crowl, his staff and even some customers, the business was back up and running in three months.

"[Crowl's] a single-minded project manager and got things done and it was tremendous," Rappaport said. "We try to make it not just a shopping experience, but a place where people can come and enjoy themselves, and for vendors a place where they can be taken seriously and get a really solid start with their products."

Memorial Day is Customer Appreciation Day at the Woodstock Farmers Market. It's a thank you to the community for its help during Irene clean-up efforts. Everything in and out of the store is 20 percent off.