AROUND NJ

State’s farmers markets bring Jersey Fresh produce directly to communities

BY Lauren Wanko, Correspondent |

Traveling is part of the job for this fourth generation New Jersey farmer.

“We go to people instead of them having to travel to us,” said farmer Christina Stone.

Stone co-owns the family business, Krowicki’s Farm Market and Greenhouses in New Egypt. On this day, though, she’s at the Downtown Toms River Farmers Market.

“There are 140 community farmers markets in the state. Each one is different,” said state Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher. “It’s a chance for communities to bring farmers into the market place to bring other vendors that have fresh products.”

Managed by the Downtown Toms River Business Improvement District for about a dozen years, the market is open every Wednesday from mid-May through Thanksgiving. Farmers and other vendors pay a fee to participate.

“We have at least four produce farms and a number of other vendors that sell everything from wine to brownies to spices and hot sauces to organic dog treats,” said Alizar Zorojew, executive director of the Downtown Toms River Business Improvement District.

Stone sells her fresh produce at six different markets each week, including the one in Toms River. Her day starts at about 4:30 a.m. After feeding the farm animals she prepares for the market.

“We pick, we pack we come to the market. We set up,” she said. “Then its unloading all over again. It’s making boxes. It’s restocking boxes, and then it’s going home and it’s getting ready for the next day,” Stone said.

Many insist the market also draws more customers to their farms. Spyro Martin of Argos Farm says the Toms River venue gives him a chance to talk to local residents about their certified naturally grown produce and meats.

“It really is about community outreach and we’re very passionate about what it is that we grow and what we raise,” Martin said, “And we find the best way to reach our customers is directly face to face.”

“The farmers market has the freshest,” said Toms River resident Tom Van Kirk. “And it’s that time of year and I wait all year long for the summertime to get my Jersey tomatoes and my white corn.”

What does Fisher want people to know about Jersey Fresh produce?

“I want them to know that you can’t get any better, and when you buy Jersey Fresh produce, you’re not only just doing something for yourself by getting nutritious items into your diet, you are also supporting those farmers in the state who need you to support so they can continue to flourish,” he said.

Farmers like Stone and Martin are already gearing up for next week’s market.