Nearly a dozen area markets in South Jersey operate in May with more to come this summer and with markets popping up mornings, afternoons and evenings, on weekdays and weekends, it’s more convenient than ever to purchase Jersey Fresh produce.
Markets across the state provide a steady supply of customers for growers, they lower prices and they offer recipes for customers.
What are some of your favorite New Jersey farmers markets? Tell us in the comments below.
Westmont Farmers Market
“This is prime green season,” Doug Kelly, manager of Westmont Farmers Market, said. “Leafy greens like arugula, lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, kale and collared greens are all plentiful and well-priced right now.”
Kelly also recommends the plump red strawberries and slender spears of verdant asparagus.
Kelly says Westmont’s Wednesday evening market (4 p.m. to 7 p.m.) compliments a neighboring market.
“People who buy on Saturday in Collingswood may need to re-stock by Wednesday,” Kelly said. “It gives farmers another opportunity to sell.” Westmont’s market also offers prepared foods like grilled seafood, burgers, hot dogs, barbeque, and pizza so visitors can stop by for dinner, shop and enjoy live music.
Betsy Cook, marketing manager for the 13-year-old Collingswood market says May is garden season. Vendors display their vibrant spring harvest and offer hanging baskets and planters ablaze with showy flowers. Flats of flowers and surplus vegetable plants are scooped-up by home gardeners.
“It may seem counterintuitive to sell plants that encourage buyers to grow their own produce, but it doesn’t deter them from coming back and buying tomatoes and peppers later in the season,” Cook said.
Collingswood’s two-dozen vendors who set up Saturdays (8 a.m. to 12 p.m.) include farms, orchards, beekeepers and fiber farmers. The market also offers cheese, seafood, beef and poultry.
“We actively seek every genre of local agriculture,” Cook said. “It’s a challenge to find seafood vendors but we have clams brought up from Brigantine and seafood from Long Beach Island.”
Cook says that on nice days the Collingswood market typically draws thousands of visitors but may only attract a few hundred if it rains.
“We are very appreciative of the customers who come out rain or shine,” Cook said. “It’s very touching to see them standing under their umbrellas making their purchases and supporting the local farmers.”
Weather is a huge factor in determining any farmers markets’ success. Markets operate in rain or shine but attendance drops drastically during inclement weather.
Maple Shade’s market runs Friday evenings (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.). Co-chair Margo Mangione says Johnson’s Farm, famous for apple cider donuts and fresh-picked produce, will be on hand every week.
“Live music creates ambiance and a variety of small-town vendors offer hand-crafted items,” Mangione said.
Voorhees Town Center’s market debuts Saturday, May 19 (8 a.m. to 12 p.m.). Marketing Director Maria Umbriac sees the revitalized Echelon Mall area is emerging as “a new downtown” and hopes the new farmers market will become a Saturday morning ritual for visitors to meet friends and shop for weekly produce and dinner ingredients.
“We want to provide an opportunity for shoppers to interact with the farmers who grow their food,” Umbriac said. The grand opening celebration will include a petting zoo, tractor rides and other children’s activities as well as giveaways.
“We look forward to offering the community access to farm-fresh produce while supporting local farmers and the Garden State’s agricultural heritage,” Umbriac said.
Another market premieres Sunday, May 20 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) in Medford, adjacent to Kirby Bros. Feed Store on Main Street.
“We want local growers and consumers to connect face-to-face because supporting local food is so important to us,” organizer Sarah Kirby said.
Kirby also hopes to foster a gathering place for socializing and keeping up-to-date on town happenings. The market will offer organic and conventional food, including produce, honey, grass-fed beef, shellfish, fresh bread and wine.
“It’s one-stop, local shopping. None of the items come from beyond 100 miles of our store,” Kirby said.
Below we’ve included a map of some of our favorite South Jersey farmers markets. Are we missing one? Tell us in the comments below.
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