Somerville’s Loss is Hillsborough’s Gain

Dogwood Farms is owned and operated by Jon Knox and his wife, Kim Koziol.  Credits: Courtesy Duke Farms
Harvest Moon Farm is owned by Kyle  Goedde, shown here on the tractor, and Rita Robinson. Both were born and raised in Hillsborough. Credits: Courtesy Duke Farms

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Several farmers and other vendors that used to sell fresh produce and other farm goods on Division Street have relocated to Hillsborough’s Duke Farms, which opens its Farm to Table Market season today at the Visitors’ Center off Duke Parkway East.

About to enter its third season, the Farm to Table Market will be open from 3-8 p.m. every Thursday through Nov. 17 featuring local farmers with locally-grown produce; 14 vendors are signed on, with more expected, according to Michael Catania, Duke Farms president.

Somerville’s loss is Hillsborough’s gain.

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The Downtown Somerville Alliance, which had sponsored the Thursday farmers’ market on the Division Street pedestrian mall , decided to withdraw its sponsorship at the close of last season, according to Tom Genova, DSA president.

For the first time in several years, there will be no farmers market in Somerville.

The DSA got behind the farmers market several years ago when Somerville lost its only grocery store, hoping to provide a ready source of fruit and vegetables to residents, but according to Genova, residents with jobs complained that they couldn’t get to the market mid-day on a weekday. Their preference was Sunday.

“We got a lot of complaints, ‘Why don’t you do it when we’re home,’ that was the main thing,” Genova said.

The Pathmark was razed and eventually replaced by a state-of-the-art ShopRite helping to diminish the importance of the market.

Another mark against the farmers market was the expense.

“We were charging the vendors a ridiculously low amount it was costing the DSA money, we were in the red,” Genova added.

Merchants on Division Street were also complaining.

“Some of the products being sold at the market weren’t truly local, things like packaged coffee and other prepared foods, they were competing with our merchants,” Genova explained.

 “We run the DSA like a business, every cent we spend has to provide a return to our stakeholders, just like a corporation,” Genova said. “Yes, the market put feet on the street, but the stores, the businesses, were they getting a return, were customers coming into their stores – any event has to produce,” Genova continued. “To keep throwing money into something that doesn’t meet the needs of the stakeholders doesn’t make sense.

“We’ve got to evolve, we can’t keep doing something because we’ve always done it,” he added.

Catania saw an opportunity.

Duke Farms is a non-profit center dedicated to sustainability, stewardship, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and ecological restoration located on 2,742 acres along Route 206, less than a five-minute drive from downtown Somerville.

Rapidly becoming an international destination for tourists, Duke Farms attracted over 500,000 people last year to its bike paths, trails and ecological programs.

A decision was made to move the Farm to Table Market to Thursdays and to operate later in the day to permit more people to stop in after work.

“Somerville closing its market created an opening for us and we jumped in,” Catania said.

“These markets become a part of the local community, local food, local farmers supporting the local economies, it’s really a good dynamic. We wanted to step in and fill that role,” Catania added. “Somerville is certainly close enough, so people can come here.”

Thursday’s opening will include live music.

“Honestly this will help kick start people to realize the beauty of that place; go on the tours, check it out,” Genova said.

Farmers and vendors expected for the opening include Cherry Grove Farm; Dogwood Farms NJ; Edgewood Farm; Harvest Moon Organic Farm;  TreeLicious Orchards; Unionville Vineyards;  bon Sweet Treats; Hot Sauce 4 Good; Jams by Kim; Karmic Nature; Picklelicious; Two Dudes Jerky and Wolgast Tree Farm.

The Farm to Table Market will be set up In front of the Farm Barn Orientation Center, 1112 Dukes Parkway West. Call (908) 722-3700, ext. 4 for further information.

Following are profiles of the farmers and vendors: 

-       Dogwood Farms is owned and operated by Jon Knox and his wife, Kim Koziol. As a Jersey native, Jon knew the Garden State would be a perfect place for a farm that offered fresh, sustainably grown produce and meats to local families and restaurants. The NOFA-NJ Beginner Farmer Program at Duke Farms gave Jon and Kim a chance to pursue their dream of farming. 

-       Harvest Moon Farm - Kyle  Goedde and Rita Robinson are young aspiring farmers who were born and raised in Hillsborough, NJ and apprenticed for three years on an organic farm located in Lambertville, NJ. In 2015, with nearly 10 years of farming experience, they joined the NOFA-NJ Incubator program located at Duke Farms. This program provides them with land, space and some of the equipment necessary to help start their our own farming operation. Harvest Moon Farms's passion is to grow healthy, sustainable produce in New Jersey. 

-       Hot Sauce 4 Good - Bob Ferretti and his family started Hot Sauce For Good as a commitment to change the world by supporting charities that feed the hungry, educate the poor and invest in hard working entrepreneurs in developing countries. They hand bottle thousands of bottles of spicy hot sauce from the finest locally sourced ingredients (Hillsboro Farm and Norz Hill Farm). Proudly donating a minimum of $1 per bottle sold, Hot Sauce 4 Good helps to fund projects around the globe and right here at home in the United States. Their efforts, fueled by an ever-expanding cult following for their spicy sauces, have raised over $65k to date for the charities they support.

-       Cherry Grove Farm has been in the Hamill family since 1902. It is a diversified, sustainable dairy farm and creamery situated on 480 acres of woodland, wetland and pasture in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. They make award-winning farmstead cheeses from our grass-fed cows’ milk. Their commitment as a farm is to be transparent, to educate and engage with the community, reconnecting neighbors to the land and the source of their food.
-        bon Sweet Treats is a small chocolate and macaron business specializing in bonbons, truffles, barks and French macarons. The majority of their ingredients are sourced from local farms in New Jersey.  Nestled in the Sourland Mountains of New Jersey, they are 100% committed to being an eco-conscious company and compost the majority of  scraps to generats very little waste. With a commitment to excellence and decadence makes their treats sublime.  

-       Jams by Kim is an artisanal food company creating all natural Jams, Jellies and Preserves. While balancing creativity with tradition and authenticity, Jams by Kim is passionate about capturing real honest flavors in their Jams. In addition to single fruit flavors like Blackberry Jam and Tangerine Marmalade, Jams by Kim creates flavor combinations like Bartlett Pear and Strawberry Jam and Blueberry and Lemon Jam. Jams by Kim also creates unique Jams from vegetables, like Roasted Garlic and Sweet Onion Jam, and Tomato, Orange and Ginger Jam.

-       Karmic Nature offers a wide variety of locally New Jersey made organic products. Their motivation was to give local vendors the opportunity to reach a wide variety of clientele outside of the Northern New Jersey area. Whether it be all natural or organic soap, salves, aromatherapy, cosmetics or other body products, Karmic Nature stands behind each of their vendors.

-       Picklelicious: Robyn Samra, “The Pickle Lady,” has been in the pickle business for over twenty two years in New York and New Jersey. They specializes in pickles of course (sold by the gallon, quart, pint, or pickle-on-a-stick). But they are also famous for our olives, olive paste, homemade tapenades, stuffed grape leaves, and marinated artichokes. They also carry specialty items such Robert Rothchild products, nuts, salsas, chips, and dips. 

-       Tree-licious Orchards - Located in western New Jersey, in the heart of Warren County, TreeLicious produces many varieties of fruit, both heritage varieties and new hybrids. They strive to bring the most current methods of low-impact farming, like integrated pest management, to the task of preserving the best-tasting traditional varieties of apples, peaches, plums, pears, apricots, and cherries.

-        WoodsEdge Farms Since 1976, the WoodsEdge vision has consistently been one of creating beauty and value. In order to create the most sumptuous fabrics, whether knit or woven, one needed beautiful yarns. For years, we envisioned the feel, color, and design of yarns, which quite simply were nowhere to be found—not yet available in any circles. To make the vision a reality two things were important: first, the highest quality raw materials were needed and second, an understanding of how raw materials would meld into the creative artistry of the designers’ needs. Today, these parallel journeys have become an equal focus, but the love of breeding beautiful fibers for end use textiles of exceptional quality, has never lessened.

-       Wolgast Tree Farm is a special place, growing Christmas trees using sustainable and river-friendly farming practices, with special attention on wildlife and conservation. Run by retired Rutgers’ Wildlife Management Professor Len Wolgast and wife Cathy Blumig, also a Wildlife Management expert, Wolgast Tree Farm has been growing Christmas Trees since 1977, and the farm officially opened for business in 1984.

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