NJ PEN 2024 Farmers Market Preview


Our look ahead at what to expect from the area’s local farmers markets in Collingswood, Haddon Heights, Haddonfield, and Merchantville.

By Matt Skoufalos | May 4, 2024

Collingswood Farmers Market Lending Library bag. Credit: Tricia Burrough.

In suburban Camden County, farmers markets have evolved from a relative novelty about a quarter-century ago into an anticipated staple of seasonal, small-town life.

What began as a way to reconnect residents of the Garden State to the people who grow their food — and, in turn, connect those growers to their customers — has evolved into a necessary community gathering space.

It’s a place where cottage industry start-ups scout out an on-ramp from a family recipe to a brick-and-mortar storefront; where neighbors greet their friends as their kids play together. There’s live music, fresh food, and face-to-face conversations in a day and age when most shopping and social interaction is done over a screen.

A farmers market presents the fullness of a local economy in the most proximate sense. Vendors are almost always selling you things they’ve produced themselves. The food that you take home likely was grown within 25 miles of where it will be eaten. You’re shopping closer to the people and closer to the land.

Farmers markets are also community efforts, volunteer-led, and dependent upon ongoing financial and in-kind support. They require coordination, physical labor, and no small degree of personal enthusiasm for the mission. And when they disband, they can be difficult to revive.

In season, Camden County shoppers have access to farmers markets in Collingswood, Haddon Heights, and Haddonfield on a weekly basis, and a fourth, once-a-month night market in Merchantville.

Collingswood Farmers Market 2024 season poster. Credit: Maria Beddia.

Collingswood Farmers Market

Irvin and Atlantic Avenues
Saturday, 8 a.m. to 12 noon
May 4 to November 23, rain or shine

Coordinator Kim Oberg may be in just her second year as the head volunteer at the Collingswood Farmers Market, but the weekly event has become a Saturday morning institution as it enters its 25th season.

To mark the occasion, opening day kicks off with a “People’s Produce Parade” honoring farmers, vendors, and volunteers like former market coordinators Sylvia Hatzell, Pamela Ciervo, Betsy Cook, and David Hodges.

Guests are encouraged to dress up in their favorite farm-themed attire, and serenade them into the opening of the 2024 season.

“Each person took it a little bit further,” Oberg said. “It’s grown so much, and I’m excited to see how we can keep growing it.”

The backbone of the market is its staple of South Jersey farmers, seven of which have participated annually since year one: Buzby, Farmisano, Flaim, Hymer, Sikking, Springdale, and Viereck Farms.

This year will be Kevin Flaim’s last at the market, as he transitions to retirement. Flaim will split a market stall with Cassaday Farms of Monroeville this year, which plans to assume the space fully in 2025.

Among those debuting at the market this season is The Humble Spud, a potato-themed breakfast and lunch stand from Chef Desmond Keefe, Director of Culinary and Hospitality at Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC).

Shoppers searching for scallops, swordfish, tilefish, tuna, and other seafood will welcome Scallop Shack Farms to Collingswood; those bringing their dogs along for a Saturday stroll might sniff out Saint Rocco’s dog treats, both new to the market for 2024.

Collingswood Farmers Market 2015 opening day. Credit: Tricia Aspinwall.

Market-goers can fill their pantries with products from several small-batch sauce, dip, and condiment makers, like infused, blended olive-and-canola oils from Art of Olive Oil; Boheme Foods pickled and preserved sauces, jams, and pickles; and hot sauces from Goodlands Food Company and Is It Spicy Sauce Company.

Headbangin’ BBQ, the pandemic passion project from Collingswood resident Marc Brasof, will bring its offset smoker to the market biweekly starting in June.

Mom Mom’s Kitchen will cross over the Delaware from South Philadelphia with frozen Polish food every other week as well.

South Jersey Smokehouse, which spent the farmers market offseason popping up at Revolution Coffee Roasters, returns full-time to Collingswood in 2024 with nova lox and pastrami smoked salmon, smoked tuna and chicken salads, and spreads and smoked cheeses.

Chef Scott Schreiber of Maria’s Bread Sandwiches will come down from Haddon Avenue to Atlantic Avenues to serve up fresh breakfasts weekly.

“We have such a good group of vendors and offer so much; it’s very balanced,” Oberg said. “One of our goals is that you have everything you need so you don’t have to go to the grocery store. You can shop local, fresh.

“And the community is so supportive,” she said. “We can bring the vendors, but people have to show up, and they consistently show up year after year, and the borough is super-supportive. Everyone works together.”

Families that participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can pay for their purchases at the Collingswood Farmers Market with electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards. Late last year, the market also rolled out the City Green Good Food Bucks program, which extends the purchasing power of people purchasing fresh produce on food benefits. This season, both programs will be operational from the outset.

At the edge of the Haddon Heights Farmers Market, Greg Carr coordinates the weekly Cars and Coffee auto show with market organizers, HIP. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

Haddon Heights Farmers Market

Station and East Atlantic Avenues
Sunday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
April 21 to November 24, rain or shine

Heading into its 15th season, the Haddon Heights Farmers Market is the beneficiary of some roadway reconstruction along the intersection of Station and East Atlantic Avenues, where it pops up for six months of the year every Sunday.

“It looks cleaner, it looks a little nicer,” said Market Manager Ryan Walsh. “We’ve been able to fit in some more vendors this year because of the road work.”

The Sunday morning market extends weekend foot traffic in the borough downtown for a few more hours every week with activities for children (HIP4Kids, presented by John F the Artist), a rotation of live musicians, and a variety of fresh produce, prepared goods, and artisan products.

“I think it’s a nice outlet for any person of any walk of life,” Walsh said. “Some markets might specialize in produce or crafts; Haddon Heights is a healthy mix. You’ll find something that intrigues you or interests you in some way.

“We have kids doing an entrepreneurial thing from a young age, and there are people who’ve been at the market selling honey for 15 years straight, and it’s the same consistent product,” he said. “People care about it.”

Traveling Tomato. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

New to the market this year is the Traveling Tomato Wood-Fired Pizza truck, which vends al taglia pizza slices, focaccia sandwiches, and house-made fresh mozzarella.

Cottage bakers Marigold Bakes of Barrington, The Bonnie Bakeshop of Cherry Hill, and A Labor of Loaf and Mario’s Famous Cookies, both of Audubon, are providing fresh-baked breads, cookies, and sweets.

Shoppers can cool off with Maui Shaved Ice, or chow down on Lula’s empanadas. There’s all manner of beverages, from The Booch House kombucha to hard ciders from Armageddon Brewing Company. Artisan crafted dice games from SMASH the BOX and peanut butter dog treats from GroovyBones are also both new to Haddon Heights this year.

Of course, the backbone of the market is its farmers, which include Peplowski Fruit Farm of Swedesboro, Spino Family Farms of Voorhees, Spring House Farms of Morristown, Viereck Farms of Woolwich Township, and Far and Away Flower Farm of Tabernacle. Sara’s Produce of Collingswood and Mari’s Produce of Haddonfield round out the rest.

Haddonfield Farmers Market Director Ralph Cialella in 2016. Credit: Tricia Burrough.

Haddonfield Farmers Market

2 King’s Court
Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
May 18 to October 5, rain or shine

The Haddonfield Farmers Market will enter its 19th season when it opens this May, and for longtime volunteer Ralph Ciallella, who’s spent 18 years as its managing director, it will be the last.

Ciallella estimates he has spent more than one-third of the Saturdays in his adult life organizing the market, and although he’s glad for the experience, he’s ready to hand the reins over to someone else.

“It kept me young,” Ciallella said; “kept me in the game, staying with the young people and the people on the street.

“Every little town should have an event like a farmers market,” he said. “It brings people together.”

It also helps launch small businesses. The occupants of many current Kings Highway addresses got their starts at Kings Court, including Crumb Sandwich Joint, Downtown Cookies, Heritage Winery, King’s Road, and MECHA Chocolate.

Still others, like Nick Hancock’s OK Charley’s barbecue stand, are making names for themselves in the process. Hancock, a self-professed barbecue nut, has slowly built his business at Kings Court to the point where Ciallella considers it a focal point of the market.

While the 2024 vendor list is still being finalized, the outgoing market director worries for the future of the Haddonfield Farmers Market.

This season already will be shortened by a week at either end because of conflicts with other scheduled events for Kings Court; plus, it will take a week off during the annual Haddonfield Craft and Fine Arts Festival.

Looking longer-term, Ciallella said he’s not sure what the market will do without an influx of new, reliable volunteers, and without ongoing financial sponsorship, either private or public. Both have been hard to come by, in his estimation.

“It should continue because it does bring people together,” he said. “When things are good, and seemingly not-so-good, people get together there and join in. It’s a community centerpiece.

Merchantville Market off Centre 2024 poster. Credit: Merchantville Market Off Centre.

Merchantville Market Off-Centre

Chestnut Avenue and North Centre Street
First Friday of every month
5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
May 3 to October 4, rain or shine
Holiday Market December 13

Building off its 2023 relaunch as a monthly event, the Merchantville Market Off-Centre returns in 2024 with hopes of building off the concept.

Led by a small group of local volunteers, the market comprises a mix of artisans, craft vendors, and purveyors of foods and specialty goods.

The particular strength of the Market Off-Centre is its embrace of additional community groups, which line the walking path down the center of the borough business district.

“We’re still your First Friday night market,” said co-organizer Janeen Hovnanian.

“We’re here to help promote local, shopping small, our community, and having a nice, welcoming space for whoever’s around to come hang out.”

With a lineup of some 40 vendors per month, including local businesses and area nonprofits, the Market Off-Centre seeks to deliver a variety of experiences for neighbors and visitors alike.

The opening week lineup reflects the regional draw of the market, including artisanal pantry goods from Spotted Horse Provisions of Philadelphia, distilled spirits from Mercer County’s own Sourland Mountain Spirits, Medford’s Farm Truck Brewing, and HoopHouse Bakery of Bordentown.

“We have juices, teas, fudge, soap, organic dog treats,” Hovnanian said. She also hopes to work in offerings from nearby vendors, including Fresh Produce of Palmyra, in the coming months.

Most importantly, co-coordinator Jaimee Solar said, the Market Off-Centre is designed to help foster community, “whether that’s meeting your neighbors, whether that’s supporting local businesses, or getting more people involved.

“We have a great crew,” Solar said. “Coming out on a First Friday gives you an idea of what the rest of the month in town is going to look like.”

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