SPARTA, NJ – The Sparta Farmers Market is moving to a new home. After four years, they have outgrown the plaza in front of the Sparta Town Hall and the market will be moving to Sparta Health and Wellness at 89 Sparta Ave. The back room of St Moritz in Sparta was packed with farmers and vendors for the kick-off meeting of the SFM. Most of the meal served at the meeting was locally sourced:
- Chicken from Cheurubis Farms
- Bread and Cheese from Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse
- Pork Loin from Fossil Farms
- Dessert from Tate’s Cakes and Gourmet Desserts
- Flowers from Everlasting Garden.
Addressing the group, market Manager and Co-Founder Ben Del Coro explained they will now have more room for up to 40 booth spaces and 185 parking spaces for patrons in the new location. As of now 37 booth spaces are filled. Additional spaces are reserved for artisans who will be at the market on a rotating basis.
Del Coro and Mitch Morrison are the Co-Founders of the SFM. Morrison is always energetic presence at the market, on-site greeting the patrons and overseeing the activities of the day.
While there will no longer be weekly cooking demonstrations. “There will be a bigger emphasis on health and wellness,” said Del Coro. There will continue to be musicians but “no heavy metal.”
New this season:
Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse will be offering grass-fed raw milk cheeses, wood fired bread from heritage grains and pasture raised meats. Located in Milford, PA, they offer classes and tours. In addition they hold concerts at their farm, throughout the summer. The Blacktails, a fusion of American Roots music to West Coast Swing, Gypsy Jazz, Surf Rock & Blues will perform on the farm on Sunday May 31 from 1 p.m.
Mo Pweeze will be offering allergen free desserts; cookies and cupcakes. Adrian and Christine Allen bake in Hawthorne. The business was borne from the need to provide tasty treats to the family who have food allergies. They were at the Sparta Winter Market as well.
Vernon Valley Farm is 270 acre farm that produces grass fed beef, pastured pork, chicken and eggs. Kirk Stephens and Loren Pola have revitalized and reinvented the farm. In addition to the markets they have a farm stand and offer CSAs.
There will be porta potties and hand washing stations for the patrons and vendors.
Del Coro said, “Also new this year, we have four sponsors: Lakeland Bank, Newton Medical Center, Eastern Propane and Economic Green Solutions.” He added, “We started with $500 and now we’ve outgrown the old space. We are looking for 20 percent growth. With new and old marketing and as long as the weather continues to be as good as it’s been, that is a reasonable expectation.”
He explained the loading and unloading process and addressed the common issue of Early and Late Birds. “It’s very hard, but there are no sales before the gong,” said Del Coro referring to the gong that is sounded at 9 a.m. to start the market. People will not be chased away at the end of the market if they are already there but the vendors have to be packed up ready to go as close to 1 p.m. as possible.
Natalie Burger was at the event on Monday. She raises luxury fiber animals including alpacas, mohair, cashmere, angora and Tibetan yak at Hidden Pastures, LLC. The fibers are sent to one of two co-ops, the North East Alpaca Fiber Pool and the Alpaca Fiber Pool of America. The fibers are brought to the fiber pools where they are spun and made into finished products, which, in turn, go back to the farmers to sell. Burger also spins, weaves, felts and crochets fiber herself. At the market she will have finished products as well as raw fiber for sale. “Everything is completely made in America,” she said.
Ideal Farms was represented at the dinner. Third and fourth generation farmers, they raise beef, pork, veggies as well as sunflowers and Christmas trees. Their son makes biodiesel that is used to run their tractors.
Korey Lee serves as the Comptroller of the market. She also does work for the Sharing Network. She specifically works with the sewing program for women in Cambodia. Lee travels there several times a year, returning with finished goods to sell at the Sparta Farmers Market as part of the Network. This serves to provide a living wage to the women who sew.
Suzanne Romania of Everlasting Garden explained that she is third generation farmer, raising cutting flowers. The name, Everlasting, comes from the dried flower part of the business. She runs the family business. Through the SFM she has also developed a business of providing flowers for simple weddings. “I love doing flowers,” she said.
Peggy from Glenmalure Farm in Branchville will be offering grass-fed beef and lamb, free range chicken for meat, eggs and pork. “We love our customers,” she said.
Del Coro said, “I am positive and convinced that we have the best vendor mix of all the farmers markets.”
The Sparta Farmers Market opens on Saturday, June 6 in the new location.