Straight off the farm
Bayonne Farmers’ Market is thriving
by By Al Sullivan
Reporter staff writer
Jul 31, 2013 | 2358 views | 0 0 comments | 47 47 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HUNGRY FOR FRESH – People flocked to the Bayonne Farmers’ Market looking for straight-from-the –farm produce.
HUNGRY FOR FRESH – People flocked to the Bayonne Farmers’ Market looking for straight-from-the –farm produce.
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“I decided that some snacks aren’t as healthy as they claim to be, so I decided to make my own,” said Peggy Samuels of Hoboken-based Green Acres, who was one of the nearly 20 vendors doing business at this year’s Bayonne Farmers’ Market.

Like a number of vendors, Samuels is offering a variety of goods that help people make their own cakes or cookies, although she provides a number of samples to help entice those who stop by.

This is her third year in Bayonne, although she said she has taken part in other similar markets elsewhere in Hudson County, such as the three markets in Jersey City.

While not a professional cook, she said she grew up around cooking and has a number of healthy snacks that people can make.

“If you’re going to binge, then binge on something healthy, not junk food,” she said.

While the Bayonne market is one of her latest ventures, she said she hopes to expand eventually to farmers’ markets elsewhere such as the Union Square market in New York City or perhaps some of those markets that come on line around the holidays.

The third year up and running

On this hot day in late July, Lauren Dellabella—founder and organizer of the Bayonne Farmers’ Market, could not be found.

This was highly unusual since this is a woman who does nearly everything, from setting up signs on Broadway to making sure everything is set before the market opens on Tuesdays at 2 p.m.

Megan Januska, coordinator for the City’s Special Improvement District, fills in for Dellabella, making the rounds to ensure that everything is operating as it should.

But Januska said nobody can take Dellabella’s place, and the only reason Dellabella isn’t here on this particular Tuesday is because she is doing a photo shoot for Campbell’s Soup for a magazine, part of Dellabella’s other life as a culinary consultant.

Dellabella has been in the culinary field for more than 20 years, working for food companies and food magazines, and has been active as a freelancer and a culinary consultant.

Januska said that on this Tuesday, all but two vendors showed up—and these few weeks have been particularly hot as customers and vendors hunker down under white tents to ward off direct sunlight.

This year the farmers’ market got an earlier start than last year, kicking off on May 7. While this allowed residents to get more vegetables early, a cold spring kept down many crops so there were fewer choices in the beginning.

“But everything’s here now,” Januska said.

While the onset of cold weather will determine when the farmers’ market will end, Januska said it will most likely continue until the end of November.

As in previous years, the Bayonne Farmers’ Market has drawn vendors from throughout the state, from as near as Hoboken and as far away as Asbury, NJ.

Januska said that the popular vendors include the lemonade stand, Dr. Pickle, and X-Calibur knife and scissor sharpening. Owner Scott Jennings said that people have to find him at the far end of the market and then return later with their implements. His craft is far less common than in the past when local stores used to do it, so people find it a real service, Januska said.

Fresh produce is provided by two farms, Iona Hills Farm from Hackettstown and Ort’s Farm from Long Valley.

The market is affiliated with Jersey Fresh, which is part of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.

According to the state’s Department of Agriculture, New Jersey farmers grow some of the best produce in the country. But it often does not get into local grocery stores and restaurants. New Jersey has been trying to make its produce more accessible through a program called “Jersey Fresh,” which was initiated by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture in 1984 and has gained momentum as farmers and communities like Bayonne get involved.

Always something new

Januska said a new element has been added to the market this year, something called CSAs which are a kind of farm stock. Customers buy shares and then get a portion of the produce.

“Some send in their orders and come pick them up later, or come to the market to fill their bags of fruit and vegetables,” Januska said

Some of these vendors do more than one farmer’s market, since many, such as Bayonne’s, operate one day a week.

Central Valley Farms offers a variety of eggs, cheeses, and vegetables not found at other vendors. Mike Faace, who worked for the farms since 8th grade, said mozzarella cheese is the biggest seller.

Randy Patrizio of Gourmet Nuts and Fruits of Hanover, said he’s been at the Bayonne Farmers’ Market for three years, and that business this year is about the same as last. Though he sells a variety of products, people tend to want three or four items.

“Sometimes, we have to bring more boxes,” he said.

The farmers’ market is open every Tuesday from 2 to 7 p.m. in the parking lot near the city’s mini-golf course between 23rd and 24th Streets on Del Monte Drive. For more information call (201) 436-5057.

Al Sullivan may be reached at asullivan@hudsonreporter.com.

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