Fewer South Jersey farmers’ markets open as spring crops are harvested

Editor’s note: This story may be updated as other markets confirm their plans.

Not far behind the spring rains and warmer weather are strawberries, asparagus and root vegetables whose first harvests lead to the reopening of community farmers’ markets offering produce grown in South Jersey.

While a few of those markets opened last weekend, most community farmers’ markets will return this week or later in downtowns, parks and more rural areas of Burlington, Camden and Gloucester County.

The largest farmers’ markets are in Collingswood, Haddon Heights, Wenonah, as well as the Burlington County Farmers’ Market in Moorestown, with some offering their bounty on weekends and others on weekdays.

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However, there will be fewer of these markets this year. In some cities, especially cities with smaller markets, organizers were unable to rebound from COVID-19-related closures as larger markets drew larger crowds.

Neither the Mount Holly market nor the one operated by students from the South Camden Center for Environmental Transformation plans to reopen this year due to lack of consumer interest, their spokespersons say.

Additionally, there are currently no plans to resume Farmers’ Markets in Palmyra, Westmont or Lawnside.

Bordentown Mayor Jennifer Sciortino said her Farmers Market may not start until at least July instead of June as the town seeks new market managers to replace Sruti Desai and Hillery Lamb. They operated the market for several years but decided to withdraw this year.

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As Joseph Gentile, co-founder of Haddon Heights Farmers Market explained, community markets have become more of an experience for shoppers and, at the same time, give visibility to smaller communities. They’re also a way to promote downtown and local businesses, Gentile said.

According to organizers, most seasonal farmers’ markets have grown in popularity with consumers who prefer to buy Jersey Fresh local, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020.

But the markets don’t just offer Jersey’s famous tomato and sweet corn, fruit, meat and eggs from locally raised cattle, flowers and organic produce.

Many also offer music, crafts, clothing, pastries, chocolates, cheeses, coffee, and food to eat on site. Some now also offer wine, beer and spirits from vineyards, craft breweries and distilleries across South Jersey.

One of the biggest seasonal destinations is the Burlington County Farmers’ Market, which kicks off its 16th season Saturday at the county’s agricultural center straddling Moorestown and Mount Laurel on the county’s conservation farmland on Centerton Road. It is also a working farm, with community gardens and a farm where cooking classes are held on market days.

The best place to get corn is from farm stands or produce markets where it is delivered daily.

Last year was the most successful season in market history with a record average of nearly 1,200 vehicles every Saturday in the regular season and over 2,000 vehicles during two special holiday markets in November and December.

“Our county market is now one of the most popular in the state, and it continues to grow every year,” said Burlington County Commissioner Allison Eckel, the council’s new liaison to the Department of Conservation of county government resources. the success of the market and the weekly boost it brings to our local farmers and small business owners, and we look forward to another banner season this year. »

More than 20 farms, two dozen food vendors, and 14 artists and artisans will be featured on opening day, including longtime vendors like the 1895 Organic Farm.

The newcomers are Black Sheep Farm, Sparrow Lake Farm, and Truly Seasoned, a new food vendor.

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Craft beer and liquor sales are also back after their debut last season. Marlton-based Zed’s Beer and Columbus-based Recklesstown Farm Distillery will be present on opening day. Burlington City’s Third State Brewery and Cherry Hill’s Forgotten Boardwalk Brewery will be featured on other dates throughout the season.

The Collingswood Farmer’s Market and Haddon Heights Farmer’s Market, meanwhile, have grown in their downtown neighborhoods, attracting customers local and from afar, as do a few other markets.

Collingswood Farmers Market manager David Hodges displays cauliflower heads at the market's Viereck Farms stand.

“The market is coming back with enthusiasm and will be better than ever after dealing with COVID,” said David Hodges, Market Director.

“We are mainly focused on Jersey Fresh so we have 28 farm stalls and we include products from cows, sheep, lambs and chickens so we have eggs, yoghurt, sausages from lamb and skins, and fish caught in Jersey waters, and horticulture.”

Collingswood Market is the most accessible as customers can take the PATCO Hi-Speedline between Philadelphia and Lindenwold to Collingswood Station, where they can shop under the shade of the elevated tracks.

Haddonfield’s downtown farmers’ market is also within walking distance of its Speedline station.

Operated by Heights in Progress (HIP) under the direction of Market Director Fabian Brown, the Haddon Heights Market opened in April and co-hosts Coffee and Cars weekly with the Local Links restaurant. The market also offers periodic programs for children coordinated by a local teacher.

Herbs are popular right now at the Formisano Farms stand at Collingswood Farmers Market, especially lemon varieties.

“I would say it’s the biggest turnout we’ve ever had for an opening day with over 1,000 people in attendance,” Gentile said. “We have been in business for 13 years and currently have 31 suppliers at the moment with co-hosting Cars and Coffee from 9am to noon.”

And for those who live in cities without a nearby community farmers’ market, Virtua Health’s mobile farmers’ market may be an option.

Virtua will host a special event on Friday, May 6 to mark the fifth anniversary of its mobile farmers market and year-round groceries. The outdoor event will include free health screenings and giveaways. It is scheduled for 1-2 p.m. at the Virtua Health & Wellness Center, 100 Atlantic Ave., Camden, weather permitting

The Market Bus operates Tuesday through Thursday between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. He visits sites in Camden on Tuesdays, Pennsauken on Wednesdays and Willingboro and Westampton on Thursdays.

Here are the days, times and locations of seven community markets:

Burlington County Farmers Market: Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. from May 7 to October 29, with special markets for the fall holidays at 500 Centerton Road, Moorestown Visit burlcoagcenter.com/

Collingwood: Saturdays 8am-noon April through Thanksgiving at 713 North Atlantic Ave.; Contact [email protected]

Martin: Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. from May 25 to July 27 at Evesboro Downs Park, Evesboro-Medford Road and operated by the Township of Evesham. To visit marltonfarmersmarket.com

Haddonfield: Saturdays from May 14 to October 15 at Kings Court, Kings Hwy E & Kings Court from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visit : haddonfieldfarmersmarket.org

Haddon Heights: Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. until November 22 at 533 Station Ave. at the historic station. To visit [email protected]

Virtua Health Mobile Marketplace: Call or visit virtua.org/about/eat-well/mobile-farmers-market for locations and times between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. from Tuesday to Thursday

Wenonah: Thursday 4 to 7 p.m.; From May 7 to September 15 at Wenonah Park, Mantua and Southeast Avenues, visit facebook.com/wenonahfarmersmarket/

Carol Comegno loves telling stories about South Jersey life, history and veterans for the Courier Post, Burlington County Times and Daily Journal. If you have a story to share, call her at 856-486-2473 or email her [email protected].

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