CHATHAM, NJ - Residents of Chatham celebrated the beginning of the summer season with a Farmer’s Market that took place on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Besides having the opportunity to purchase fresh produce and natural products, participants enjoyed the sunny day and atmosphere that was brought forth by the event.
The sixth annual Farmer’s Market in Chatham took place in the parking lot right next to the Chatham Train Station. Towards the back of the lot, stood the large multi-colored tents where the vendors resided. The tents were set up so that there was a passageway in the middle where people could walk freely and look at what was being sold by vendors.
The first of many tents at the Farmer’s Market, was that of Woodsedge Wool Farms. Brent Walker, the vendor, spoke about the kinds of products made at Woodesdge in Stockton. “We have about three different types of yarn that are made at the farm,” he said. “We make sport weight, sock yarn, and lace yarn,” Walker said. The yarn is used to make hats, socks, insoles, scarves and gauntlets.
“We also have honey and yak meat at our farm,” he said. “Honey was our first food and we use our bees to make that and beeswax, handmade soap, and the like,” Walker said. “We also have yak meat that attracts customers,” he said, and added, “the yarn also sells but it’s seasonal and sells more in the fall.”
On the opposite side of this tent and further down, there is a fruit stand called Nature’s Freshest Juice. Mike Monica, the proprietor of this stand, spoke about his products and his philosophy behind his natural juice. “I’m trying to infuse the town of Chatham with my fresh, fresh, juice,” Monica said. “I like to come down to the Farmer’s Market to get people into in, into the juice. There are people from every generation that enjoy it, both young and old and I want to get more people into liking it,” he said.
“My specialty so far is Mike’s Mean Green, which is a blend of kale, celery, apple, cucumber, lemon and ginger root,” he said. “I also have blueberry banana smoothie with me, which is also a hundred percent natural,” Monica said. A taste of both of these juices reveals that they are both refreshing and delicious. “So far, I’ve had good business. These juices can be enjoyed all year round,” he said and added “I hope to have some nectarines and peaches soon to make different blends, because those fruits are seasonal,” he said.
Along that same row of tents, is a small stand where Cindy Mae’s Mushrooms from Denville, NJ are displayed. Mark Chapman, vendor, spoke about his mushrooms and what foods they go well with. “I have Portobello, Shiitake, Domestic white, Yellow Oyster and Crimini mushrooms,” Chapman said. “The mushrooms are good all year round. They are grown in houses at 62 degrees and they give great flavors to meals,” he said.
“If you sautee them with oil and garlic, they are a meal within themselves,” he said. “The Portobello is especially good on the grill while some of the other mushrooms like Crimini are better during the winter time, in soup,” he said. “The Portobello sells more than the others, because it is good in a variety of dishes,” Chapman said.
Food isn’t the only thing that was sold at the Farmer’s Market. Not too far away from Cindy Mae’s, is a tent that is surrounded by flowers and plants. The sign over the tent reads Garden Design by Elizabeth. Elizabeth Johnston-Diehl, the vendor of the stand, explains a little about her craft and what she does. “I design the plants. All of them come from local growers but it’s my job to design them,” she said. “Sometimes people want plants to decorate their house or yard, and they call me,” Diehl said.
“Of all the plants that we have today we have tropicals and annuals- the annuals don’t come back next year,” she said. “We usually have two of the same plant because people like to have two plants on opposites sides of a door or something like that, so we keep two ready for sell,” she said. “We also have a lot of mixed plants here, meaning more than one per pot,” she said.
“We also sell plant accessories. This year we are trying to get people into more organic things,” she said. “We advise them to pull banana peels or egg shells in the plants,” she said.
Along that side of stands is also, Stony’s from South Orange with lemonade, Jersey Fresh Farms, Melick’s from Oldwick, Edge of Knife, Shady Hill Homestead and Hickory Tree Chorus .
Even the snacks that were sold at the market were made from natural foods. Mediterranean Snacks from Boonton makes chips out of freshly grown potatoes and other vegetables. Anna McDonald and Megan Delanoy spoke about the products that are made at Mediterranean. “Our products are made with no trans-fat or preservatives,” McDonald said.
“We make potato and wheat products,” McDonald said. “We also sell chips that are made from potato, tomato, and spinach,” Delanoy said. “And our onion rings are made with real onions,” she said.
“Apart from this, we have mixed chips, that contain all the vegetables name before and have a soft bacon taste to it,” she said. “These chips are best for those who like vegan and kosher meals and snacks,” McDonald said.
Along that same line of stands is Unionville Vineyards with wine made from fresh Jersey grapes, Secret Garden Soap selling soap and lotion made from goat’s milk, Gourmet Fruit and Dried Nuts from East Hanover, Pickle Licious from Bogota, Sally Lunn’s Tea Shop selling berries and scones, and Pascarella Brother’s Delicatessen selling gluten free frozen meals. All the way down, near the exit of the parking lot, are the tents from the Chatham Bakery and Bread famous for its bread and J & J Italian Ice that sells the frozen dessert and also caters parties.
Pizza was being sold by one of the local pizzerias and music was provided by a radio station as well.
Janice Piccolo, Market Manger of the Farmer’s Market spoke about the importance of having products that benefit the community. “We are a certified Jersey Market,” says Piccolo, market manager. “What we value most at the Chatham Farmer’s Market is the consumer to producer value. The vendors here at the market care for one thing here: quality. They care about fresh foods not any of that stuff that is bad for the body and is made in factories,” she said.
“Our farmers make money and pay a portion of what they earn to advertise here,” Piccolo said. “We even had to get special permission to be in this lot. “We are part of 25 Farmers Markets and have gotten the sustainable award in silver for our market,” she said. “We are part of the New Jersey Council of Farmers and Community’s and that means that we care about where our products come from and where they are going,” Piccolo said.