A long-vacant space in front of the grocery store on Phoenicia’s Main Street is undergoing a transformation this week, as two local residents team up to open HomeGrown, a fresh fruit and vegetable stand selling goods from local farms and gardens.
“Every small town in this area has a produce stand, so we thought, why can’t our town have one?” said Isaiah Martin, who is undertaking the new venture with partner Josh Byer.
An opening date is tentatively set for late next week, on Aug. 27 or Aug. 28, Martin said.
The vegetables will come from Phoenicia farmer Jim Vance, Roxbury’s Straight Out of the Ground farm and the Rondout Valley Growers Association, among other sources, Martin said. Most fruit will come from orchards in Marlboro, in southeastern Ulster County. Local vegetable gardeners with overflow harvests are also on the potential source list.
“We want to tap into all the resources that are here,” Martin said.
The plan is to be open five days a week from mid-morning to mid-evening, but the exact days and hours have not been decided yet. HomeGrown will be open until December, and may sell Christmas trees, and then close for a while in the mid-winter. If all goes according to plan, when it reopens next spring it will expand to prepared foods such as Catskill-made jams and jellies, as well as products like maple syrup and honey.
The idea was born during a front-porch conversation between Martin and Byer, who both grew up in the Ulster County hamlet.
“We were talking about what we can do for Phoenicia,” said Martin, who also works as a carpenter and stonemason and cooks at Brio’s Pizzeria down the street. “This is my town, and I want it to be nice. I don’t want it to be like a lot of small towns where nobody does anything.”