We’re getting into the heart of the growing season in New Jersey, which for purists means it’s just about time to buy real Jersey tomatoes and corn. But where to shop?
There are food stores around that have “farm” or “market” in their name, and we often shop for fruits and veggies there because it’s not always summer in New Jersey. The folks who sell at these stores aren’t the folks who grew the stuff, however. If you want to talk to the people who can tell you how long before the corn and watermelons ripen, you’ve got to go to a farm market run by a real farmer.
“A week or two,” said John Ostering, when we asked the all-important question on Saturday. Ostering, a Verona resident, revived the historic Morgan’s Farm in Cedar Grove as a fully organic farm, with the help of his wife Julie Ostering and several current and former Verona High School students. They had their first growing season last year and expanded their growing space this year to meet the demand. Depending on the week, you’ll find everything from basil and beets to hot peppers and zucchini. The new Morgan’s Farm is open Saturdays only, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and if you plan on being there early because the harvests sell out quickly.
Are you going to pay more shopping at a real farmers market? Maybe. But we got a family-size bunch of kale at Morgan’s Farm that was just $2 on a recent Saturday. Real farmers markets also give you a chance to taste things that were picked just a few hours before you bought them.
The state’s JerseyFresh Web site lets you find farmers markets and pick-your-own farms all across New Jersey. Here are some of the farmers markets close to where Veronans live, work and play:
PSE&G Plaza, 80 Park Place
Open: Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Near the major office buildings in Newark so you can shop on your lunch hour.
Montclair Farmers Market (Tuesday)
South Park Street
Open: Tuesdays, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
New this year, it features Race Farms, School Lunch Organic Farms among its vegetable and fruit providers, and grass-fed beef, pastured pork and free-range chickens and eggs from Heritage Valley.
Montclair Farmers Market (Saturday)
Walnut Street Train Station
25 Depot Square
Open: Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Long-running market includes Matarazzo Farms veggies, Tassot Apiaries’ honey, Treelicious fruit and Vacchiano Farms’ eggs. You can follow it on Facebook.
Point Pleasant Beach Farmers Market
601 Arnold Ave. and Routet 35 South (Borden’s Parking Lot)
Point Pleasant Beach
Open: Sundays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
One of several markets near Verona’s Shore destinations. Expect to find veggies, eggs, prepared food and more. Posts vendor information to its Facebook page.
Union Square Greenmarket
16th and Broadway
Open: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 8a.m. to 6 p.m.
A favorite of Verona’s Carmen Quagliata, who is the executive chef at nearby Union Square Cafe. One of New York City’s 52 greenmarkets, it operates all year. Check its Web site to see which farmers are there when, and where they are located. Don’t work near Union Square? The main Greenmarket Web site lets you search for one close to your office.
Roseland Farmers Market
Roseland and Harrison Avenues
Open: Fridays, noon to 7 p.m.
Produce from Muth Family Farm, as well as a variety of prepared foods, including Stella’s killer empanadas. See its Web site for details.
Summit Farmers Market
22 DeForest Avenue
Open: Sundays, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Summit Farmers’ Market a rare Sunday shopping opportunity. Vacchiano and Race farms are here, as well as LL Pittenger, which produces pastured beef and pork.
Washington Park Farmers Market
Washington & James St., Newark
Open: Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Organized by Derek Ware, who also runs the local news Web site Glocally Newark. Also offers live music.