A look ahead at what the six seasonal markets in suburban Camden County—Collingswood, Haddonfield, Haddon Heights, Westmont, Merchantville, and Oaklyn—will offer for the coming season.
By Matt Skoufalos | May 4, 2018
Connecting neighbors and neighborhoods with the people who produce and prepare their food, local farmers markets thrive on social connections.
From Wednesday through Sunday, May to October, they build relationships that aren’t only farm-to-table, but farmer-to-shopper, and chef-to-diner.
With at least three per week, and sometimes more, there’s a full season of events for families to follow.
Westmont Farmers Market
Haddon Square (Haddon & West Albertson Aves.)
4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays
May 2 – Oct. 31
Now in its tenth year, the Westmont Farmers Market will take its midweek night market setup to a new permanent home on “Haddon Square,” the Haddon Township-owned pop-up space adjacent to the historic Westmont Theater.
In addition to offering a permanent bathroom setup for guests in the onsite public trailers, the size of the available space means the market can accommodate some artisan vendors that had been eliminated in the tighter confines of its Strawbridge Avenue location.
“The market really represents how the town has changed over the last 10 years,” said coordinator Doug Kelly.
“We used to open with 11 vendors and it would be quiet. This year, we opened up with 25, with the mayor and commissioners doing the ribbon-cutting. Support from the township is at an all-time high.”
Funded by the Haddon Township business improvement district (BID), the Westmont Farmers Market has been a frequent driver of foot traffic to its Haddon Avenue shopping district. Shifting to Haddon Square allows it to take advantage of “an activated space that’s lively beyond belief,” Kelly said.
Putting the market on the square allows vendors to take advantage of permanent tents, which speeds setup and breakdown times, and facilitates a broader swath of programming.
Beneath them, Kelly said BID members will rotate through, tenants from the SoHa building will provide some DIY activities, and the Camden County Library will offer biweekly storytelling.
The market has always included live music.
Permanent picnic tables and umbrellas on the square will provide additional seating for guests, but Kelly said the BID is discussing further beautification of the space, including a permanent sign, plantings, and a new fence. There’s also the possibility of adding another mural to the square-facing wall of Franco’s Place pizzeria
“For us to be next to that historic landmark raised the whole market to this new level,” Kelly said. “A lot of the same people are still there, and we’re seeing droves and droves of new faces.”
New tenants include: Cannoli World, Dan’s Waffles, Philadillphia Pickling Company, Hildegard & Blaise, Catalyst Accessories, Mystical Blossoms, Ginny’s Gifts To Go, Relics Revisited, Green Planet Plants, and the Slider King.
Collingswood Farmers Market
Irvin and North Atlantic Avenues
8 a.m. to 12 noon Saturdays
May 5 – November 24
Year 19 for the Collingswood Farmers Market is a “rededication to our mission year,” which means its vendor requirements are tightening up, said coordinator David Hodges.
“We are devoting ourselves as never before to our primary mission of supporting South Jersey farms and farmers,” Hodges said.
“We haven’t wandered far from that policy, but we are tightening up restrictions this year to make sure that we don’t deviate from those primary objectives,” he said.
Going forward, the market will restrict its vendors to regional farms, prepared-foods vendors who source their products from local farm produce, and Collingswood-based small food businesses. For Hodges, clarity of mission can be a distinguishing feature of the market in a space where competition for locally sourced foods has intensified.
“The farmers markets of 2000 and 2005 and 2010 were about the only place you can go to get a Jersey tomato, but now you can go to Whole Foods or Wegmans or Acme, and check out that local produce section, and feel like you’re doing your part to support local agriculture,” Hodges said.
“We want to make sure we aren’t like a grocery store where you can get anything, but a source for legitimately and exclusively local produce,” he said.
The biggest change that stems from that shift is the replacement of the Audubon-based Treehouse Café with a combination operation from Constellation Collective and Revolution Coffee Roasters.
Called Revelation Café, the blended space will be located at the west end of the market in an area dedicated to Collingswood-based businesses.
“Any BID vendors that want to take space will be there, and that leaves a couple spaces for the rotating roster of BID vendors that are from Collingswood,” Hodges said.
The market’s legacy farmers will return, including Flaim Farms, Farmisano Farms, Savoie Organic Farm, Springdale Farms, and Hymer Farms. Dan and Lynn Lenco of DanLynn Farms have retired; their kettle corn operation will be picked up by Muth Family Farms.
Last year, the Collingswood Farmers Market was working to implement SNAP and EBT programming in order to accept benefits-based payments from low-income shoppers; Hodges said those programs are still being rolled out, and he’ll continue shoring them up in 2018.
Haddonfield Farmers Market
Kings Court, Haddonfield
8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays
May 19 – October 20
The Haddonfield Farmers Market may not be the biggest or the most well-known of the area farmers markets, but coordinator Ralph Cialella said it’s among the most comfortable.
“We’re sitting there in the middle of one of the prettiest towns in South Jersey,” Cialella said.
“People are hanging. If they miss Collingswood in the morning, they make ours in the afternoon.”
That’s in part due to its live entertainment, nestled in the Kings Court gazebo on Kings Highway in downtown Haddonfield, and new outdoor furniture paid for by funds raised at prior events.
“We’re always trying somebody new and different in that little court, and we’re going to continue to try to do that,” Cialella said.
The market also is growing thanks to expanded sponsorship from the Partnership for Haddonfield, the borough local business improvement district, Jefferson Health, and Kings Road Brewing.
Haddon Heights Farmers Market
Atlantic and Station Avenues
9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays
May 6 – October 28
Entering its seventh year, the reliable Haddon Heights Farmers Market is either the first or the last of the weekly seasonal markets, depending on where Sunday falls in your scheduling.
Starting at 9:30 a.m. and running through 1 p.m., with extended hours for special events, the market at the intersection of Station and East Atlantic Avenues plugs into the borough business district for brunch and breakfast, and offers a full complement of produce for shoppers.
“Saturday is a flooded day,” said market coordinator Joe Gentile. “There’s a lot of soccer, a lot of baseball, a lot of competition with other festivals.
“Sunday is kind of a lazy day,” he said. “We try to provide a place for people to hang out and enjoy.”
Gentile insists his clients aren’t tire-kickers; they come to shop. Many are church-goers who pass through after services. Some are from nearby communities like Audubon, Bellmawr, and Barrington. Plenty are locals who enjoy strolling through the downtown shopping district.
“We continue to create these awesome relationships with people, and I believe we create a destination for them on a Sunday, especially if they can’t get to a market on Saturday,” Gentile said.
This year, the Haddon Heights market is expanding its programming with focused activities for children and seniors. In addition to live music and kids’ events, there are tables with volunteer organizations from One Love Animal Rescue and Moms Demand Action to partner groups with Haddon Heights in Progress (HIP), the borough’s default business alliance and organizers of its music festivals.
“I believe our platform for development is family-friendly music town with a hip vibe,” Gentile said. “It’s at the corner of jazz and rock; it comes together right here.”
Merchantville Market Off-Centre
Chestnut Avenue and Centre Street
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays
June 2 – October 27 (Preview May 12)
With about 20 to 30 vendors per week, the Merchantville Market Off-Centre focuses on locally grown food, handmade crafts, and baked goods.
This season, it will also welcome businesses with a storefront in town for the first time, which market coordinator Ryan Middleton described as “a win-win that adds vendors and participation in the market.”
Situated on a tree-lined path in front of The Station Café, at the corner of North Centre Street and East Chestnut Avenue, the Market Off-Centre has easy access to parking, live entertainment, and a variety of nonprofit participants in addition to its vendors.
The market is a focal point of community gathering, and with a calendar of family-friendly events throughout the season. A preview comes May 12, a few weeks ahead of the official start of the season, in conjunction with Mystical May, the borough’s downtown holistic street festival.
Opening day, June 2, is the Merchantville birthday celebration, and commemorates the borough’s date of incorporation. June 16 is a chicken festival that will increase awareness of its backyard hen program.
July 21 brings a mid-summer “Christmas in July” celebration with holiday-themed decorations and activities. And October 27, the final market day, closes out the season with the Monsterville Halloween celebration.
In between, there will also be a chili cook-off, car seat safety check, health and wellness day, and a day for kids’ upcycled artwork.
Oaklyn Final Fridays Farmers and Food Trucks
West Clinton Ave. & Kendall Blvd.
4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
June 29, July 27, August 31, September 28
Entering its third year, the Oaklyn Final Fridays Farmers and Food Trucks series brings a fresh event to the West Clinton Avenue business district once a month throughout the summer.
Some key upgrades are in the works this year, from port-a-potties to new food trucks and additional live entertainment.
Guitarist Barry Hollander will have a residency outside the storefront of the Common Grounds coffee house, while larger live acts will plug in outside Tonewood Brewing at the other end of the block.
“Not only are we trying to support the food trucks, we want people to come to Oaklyn and see the downtown and all that it has to offer,” said co-organizer Katie Labine.
“We’re next to Collingswood and Westmont and we want people to know that we’re just as fun as those communities.”
NJ Pen is free thanks to regular, small contributions. Please support our work. Get e-mails or follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.