WAYNE, NJ – Every Saturday through October 19th, vendors set up their wares at the Wayne Farmer’s Market and provide a place for the community to come together. "It’s the Wayne YMCA that sponsors the event and is put on through a grant from Atlantic Health,” said Jill Goordman, who is a yoga instructor, but was tasked by the organization to create and manage the farmer’s market. When you speak with Goordman about the market, you can see that she was clearly the right person for the job.
When asked why the farmer’s market is important to Wayne, Goordman’s passion comes out in her response: “Well, it’s about local produce being provided in our own community. We actually do have a farm in town, and they do provide a lot of produce, but they simply cannot provide everything on their land.” But to her, it’s more than just produce: “It’s important to us. I mean we have a lot of health issues in the world today with so much bad eating. So, local fresh food is important. For example, the meat farmer at the market provides meat that is antibiotic and hormone free, and that’s a big deal in this day and age. We make that accessible every week.”
Alstede Farms and Tree Licious Orchards are two vendors who provide low pesticide, low spray produce while some of Alstede’s produce are certified organic. The egg vendor, Hazelman Farms provides pasture-raised eggs. “He takes care of them the way nature intended it. So, those things are important. Healthy food is important for a healthy community,” added Goordman.
Though the market is centered around foods and unique craft products, Goordman believes that the real magic in the market is that it has become a central spot for the community to gather.
“It’s a place for the community to come out every week. So, you’re not waiting for the concert at the end of the month, or the end of year picnic or something like that. We’re here every week where people gather and talk about local issues. We do have a lot of people that come through the market, whether it be active politicians or potential politicians. The Mayor comes and we get the opportunity to get his ear as well, while you’re standing in line waiting for your pickle,” she said with a laugh.
The farmer’s market has something for everyone. Goordman especially loves to see children at the market. “I see the market as a great place for kids. Last week the market featured a bouncy house and entertainer Miss Jolie who was ahuge hit,” said Goordman.
Moreso, she feels families appreciate that it’s a different kind of shopping environment for them. “Often the food in stores, like strawberries, are packaged up in a container, while at the market, the packages are mostly open and if you ask, the farmers will let you try anything, and answer your questions.” Children aren’t encouraged to walk around try things at a traditional store, but at a farmer’s market they’re more engaged. “it's nice when I put out the games for them and provide entertainment, but I think the kids like it because it's a different kind of environment for them it's a little bit freer.”
Why was Goordman chosen to head up the market? “I’ve belonged to my local CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) for years, but I also, shop at farmers markets. I've always historically shopped at the Montclair farmers market because I live in Caldwell,” said Goordman. “I love food; this is what makes my world go around; different fruits and vegetables and how to cook them and how to prepare them and I put a lot of that online for the community to see.” Her passion for the topic is infectious.
“I really want this to work for Wayne,” she added. “This is our first season and we really need the community support for the market for it to continue.”
Vendors pay a small fee to set-up shop at the farmer’s market and so they choose whether or not to come.
“Without the community’s support; without them coming out every week and making it their destination to purchase their produce and their desserts and their mittens from the alpaca farmer, pickles from the pickle person, and their meats and their micro-greens. Without them doing that we might not survive,” she said.
The farmer’s market is a family-friendly, central gathering place for the town of Wayne. A place for the community to come together, socialize, have fun, and have regular access to healthy foods, while at the same time supporting small businesses and independent farms. Who wouldn’t want to come?
This Saturday at the farmer’s market the US Army is providing a rock-climbing wall while The New Jersey Rock Gym is providing climbing harnesses so that anyone can come try rock climbing for free.
Also, we’ll have the return of the Bagtivist, who makes re-usable shopping bags out of old t-shirts. “She was a huge hit last time,” said Goordman, “So, we’re excited to have her back.
Future weeks will have live music and more fun for the whole family. Oh yeah, and some great healthy foods and unique crafts as well. See you there!