Bucolic downtown Princeton?
Well, maybe once upon a time, but starting next week, downtown Princeton will have a more rural flavor as the country descends on the area that used to serve as a center for surrounding farming communities.
At the Herban Garden, behind the Witherspoon Bread Company at the corner of Witherspoon Street and Paul Robeson Place, a market providing fresh produce, fruits, vegetables, and flowers that only New Jersey has to offer, will get underway weekly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays through October.
It's somewhat of a triumph for Princeton, which hasn't had a farmers market of its own in years. Surrounding areas, including West Windsor, and Terhune Orchards in Lawrenceville, have long thrived on the concept. But the competition is not meant to hurt anyone if anything, it could help make the farmers market scene flourish.
"We're not competing, because the more venues farmers get, the more they're going to stay in business. It causes commerce and gets people to shop and compare," said Peter Soderman, a landscape architect who helps maintain the Herban Garden.
Mr. Soderman added that a town like Princeton, whose Environmental Commission recently honored residents and businesses for attributes contributing to a sustainable community, should have a farmers market. "At some point, you get to wonder why we didn't have one."
But now we do, and after all, what's a garden state without more farmers markets?
Two farms, the North Slope Farm in Lambertville and Suydam Farms in Franklin Township, are signed on for the market, and both are already gearing up to add Princeton to their rounds.
Ryck Suydam, a 12th-generation farmer who has run the 300-acre Suydam Farms in Franklin Township, produces hay, straw, pumpkins, cut flowers, herbs, eggs and Christmas trees, is set to bring his farm to the market on June 28 between noon and 6 p.m.
Mr. Suydam, whose family has been in the farming industry since the 1600s also naturally raises pigs, lambs, and chickens. While their meats are not truly organic because the Suydams do not use organic feed, they use all grains, no hormones, or steroids. "There's nothing funky in there," he said. Customers will be able to sign up for the meats at the farmers market, but can only purchase them at Mr. Suydam's Franklin location.
However, at the market, you can expect to see Suydam eggs from cage-free chickens, including the blue and green eggs of the Araucana chicken, whose shell color is a defining characteristic.
Mr. Suydam, along with his wife DeJay and four children, who all help on the farm, will also bring along a variety of cut flowers, heirloom tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins in the fall, and his "Simon and Garfunkel" collection of herbs. You guessed it: parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
Mike Ressweiller, proprietor of North Slope Farm, will occupy the Herban Garden Tuesdays between 2 and 6 p.m. and will sell his salad mix, heirloom tomatoes, kale, beets, herbal tea, and seasonable wild flowers. He will also bring fresh fruit from Solebury Orchard in Solebury, Pa., across the Delaware River from Lambertville.
"I grew up right downtown, so that's where the interest really came in," Mr. Ressweiller said, adding that being raised near a vegetable garden directed his professional path.
North Slope has been in business for 10 years, and has recently been scaling the business back to get more of a handle on its operations.
Echoing Mr. Soderman, Mr. Ressweiller emphasized the importance of farmers markets: "People wonder why there's no more farmland, and even when it is preserved, it does not necessarily produce products that the local community can consume.
"A farmers market is the place where a community can connect with a farmer," he said.
For the concept, Mr. Soderman credited brothers Raoul and Carol Momo, proprietors of TerraMomo, whose holdings include Mediterra and Teresa Caffe, and the Herban Garden.
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