A glimpse of what’s to come in the weekly Collingswood, Haddonfield, and Haddon Heights farmers markets for the season ahead.
By Matt Skoufalos | April 30, 2021
If the story of the 2020 farmers market season was about how rural growers and their suburban customers managed to carry on their weekly business in the face of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, then expectations of the 2021 season rest on their hopes of a strong economic rebound.
The community connections that bring fresh produce from throughout the state to Collingswood, Haddonfield, and Haddon Heights are some of the most vital examples of the sense of weekly routine that both farmers and their customers are craving in what are hopefully the end stages of the pandemic.
At a time when customers have ever more options to access their grocery goods, from supermarket delivery systems to gig-economy shopping services, face-to-face interactions at market stalls help to reinforce those fundamental networks from which raw ingredients travel from the earth itself to the dining room table.
Collingswood Farmers Market
Atlantic Avenue between Collings and Irwin
Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 12 noon
May 1 through Thanksgiving
For its 21st season, the Collingswood Farmers Market is verging on pre-pandemic normalcy, says coordinator David Hodges.
“We are more or less back to our original configuration of vendors facing each other across a central walkway on a parking lot under PATCO,” Hodges said, adding, however, that “it’s still not free-for-all walking.”
In keeping with pandemic safety protocols, shoppers will follow along two lanes of pedestrian traffic, keeping to the right of a pink line separating eastbound from westbound traffic.
Need to turn back to catch a vendor you missed? Customers are asked to hang a 90-degree right, and then rejoin traffic in the appropriate direction. Yellow-capped volunteers will be on hand to help guide activity; Hodges asks that market-goers treat them with respect as they help everyone navigate the event.
“We’re mostly in the business of limiting worry,” he said. “We want people to feel comfortable and safe.”
Masks are required for all market attendees, and vendors have been instructed not to sell to any customer without one. Strollers are welcome; dogs are not. No prepared foods are to be consumed onsite, and the market cafés aren’t open.
To manage spacing among vendors, market stalls will be established in rows of three parking spaces, with vehicles creating physical barriers between each group. Due to the statewide ban on plastic bags, shoppers are also encouraged to bring their own reusable totes. Vendors will offer paper bags, but are only allowed to resort to plastic bags to separate wet from dry items.
Collingswood will be welcoming back all its regular farmers from 2020 with the exception of Buck Wild Bison.
New to the market this year will be Johnny Ocean, a seafood purveyor bringing Jersey-caught or Jersey-raised seafood, including day boat scallops, tuna, and tilefish.
There’s also East Coast Empanadas, comprising a pair of former servers from the now-shuttered El Sitio, bottled juices from Wild & Co., and potential late-season addition Misty Meadow Sheep Dairy, which produces sheep’s milk cheeses, yogurt, and ice cream.
Retaining existing talent and scouting new blood is one of the ways in which the Collingswood Farmers Market has thrived for more than two decades, and its high profile was upheld recently in a USA Today-led poll of readers’ favorite farmers markets.
The farmers who fill its stalls will need those voters’ patronage more this year than ever, Hodges said, “because they’re rebounding from a really tough year.
“The price of everything went through the roof, labor is difficult to find, and there’s been more work for less return at virtually no profit,” he said. “This opportunity to recoup some of the losses and devastation from last year would be really important for them.”
If supporters needed additional incentive, Hodges points out that the growing season has been productive already; asparagus is in early, and the May crops “are going to be abundant where they used to be slim pickings,” he said.
Most of all, the market “represents a return to something like normalcy [and] community,” Hodges said.
“It’s a real opportunity to rebuild that sense of why you love to live in Collingswood in the first place: because 5,000 people come out on a Saturday morning to be with each other in a place that we all love and cherish.”
Haddonfield Farmers Market
2 King’s Court
Saturdays, 8:30 am. To 1 p.m.
May 15 to October 16
At the outset of its 17th year, the Haddonfield Farmers Market will return to its familiar location in King’s Court, starting May 15.
Market Coordinator Ralph Ciallella said organizers are working to maintain COVID safety protocols while they look for ways to grow the presence of the small market throughout the downtown business district and beyond its dozen initial vendors.
The only non-returning farmer will be Duffield’s, which Cialella has replaced with Muth Organic Farms of Williamstown; Muth Flower Farms will offer garden flowers and arrangements. Produce and farm goods will be available from Sorbello Girls Farm of Mullica Hill and purveyor MRK Produce of Philadelphia.
Artisan vendors include Humble Bee Woodworks, which offers handmade, functional charcuterie boards, cutting boards, cheese boards, jewelry holders, and housewares; and Breathe By Josie, which offers jewelry, organic smudge sprays, and botanicals.
Shoppers will follow COVID safety protocols, including a single flow of traffic, and recommended masking.
Haddon Heights Farmers Market
Atlantic and Station Avenues
Sundays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
April 22 through November 28
In its 11th year, the Haddon Heights Farmers Market continues to expand its staple offerings with a variety of new vendors, adding more in the weeks to come.
After its soft opening last week, market coordinator Joe Gentile said he anticipates a strong season for the 28 vendors who launched the season, and the fresh foods they offer, from seedlings to vegetables to dairy products and craft beer.
Growers include Able Acres of Estell Manor, Spino Family Farms of Stratford, Summer Wind Farms of Newfield, and Peplowski Fruit Farm and Viereck Farms, both of Swedesboro; supplementing their efforts is Sara’s Produce of Collingswood, and Bee Leave It Honey.
“As the season opens up, it’s going to improve,” Gentile said. “This is just the way back in to a busy fall.”
For those who’d like to take home some packaged goods from the market, craft beer from
Tonewood and Three 3’s breweries will be available throughout the season.
Supplementing vendors’ offerings will be an ongoing series of market programs coordinated by Heights in Progress; they’ll focus on pet adoption, activities for children, and downtown beautification with a variety of local organizations.
Pandemic safety measures will still be in effect, including one-way pedestrian traffic flow for COVID safety, and a firm mask mandate.
“We’re trying to keep in compliance with what’s there so we do not go backwards again,” Gentile said.
“We’re starting way better than we did last year as far as COVID restrictions.
“I believe it’s hopefully going to continue to improve as people get vaccinated.”
Gentile is optimistic about the outlook for farmers markets in general in 2021. He believes customers will be looking to show their support.
“People are really cognizant of what’s important to them locally,” he said. “The entertainment, getting together, that feeling of having normalcy; that streak’s become part of the Haddon Heights venue.
“I just love it,” he said. “It’s good for business, good for downtown. I think it’s good for everyone.”
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