Floating 'farmer's market' sails from Vermont to New York City

Floating 'farmer's market' sails from Vermont to New York City

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

They sailed from Vermont on a barge named for the Roman goddess of grain: a boat-building farmer, his intern first mate, and a captain whose initial impression of the vessel threatened to sink the entire voyage.

"[I thought:] Oh, my god," Captain Steve Schwartz said. "I can't possibly have made this mistake."

They sailed from lake to canal to river, aiming all the while for the ocean, not to chart those waterways or to plunder their ports, but instead to use open sails of canvas to close sales of pickled carrots, artisanal French nougat and more than 100 other products grown or made on small Northeastern farms.

"With all the waterside ruin that followed Sandy," project director Erik Andrus said, "people are really ready in this region to look to the water in a whole new light."

Andrus dreamed up this voyage -- sailing 15 tons of non-perishables 330 miles from Lake Champlain to Brooklyn -- both to help farmers reach new markets and to promote an ancient means of travel not reliant on fossil fuels.

"There's something about the arrival of a sail boat," Andrus said, "especially a large, working sail boat with masts and timbers and ropes, that's exciting."

"I still think he's a crazed lunatic," Schwartz said jokingly of Andrus, "and he somehow sucked me into this."

Navigating from hamlet to hamlet along the Hudson has so far proved a pleasure cruise for the Ceres and her crew. But the currents and tugs, freighters and ferries of New York Harbor provide more upcoming challenges than any homemade barge should have to face.

"The funky old boat from Vermont," Schwartz said, "you know, a bunch of Vermont farmers sailing a barge of vegetables in the middle of New York Harbor is kind of intriguing."

The American theologian William Shedd wrote: "A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for." Indeed, if you asked the crew of the Ceres, they would tell you: A ship is for transporting eight different kinds of syrup to the good people of New York with minimal impact on the environment.

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