Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 41
 
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
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It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton


FARM FRESH: “My interest is food and healthy eating. It goes way back. My family treated food as special, and I started growing most of our food organically. I also taught classes in organic food.” Judith Robinson, manager of Princeton Farmers’ Market, is shown in Hinds Plaza, the market’s location next to the library.

Princeton Farmers’ Market Is Big Success At the Hinds Plaza Next to the Library

A display of colorful table umbrellas highlights the Hinds Plaza next to the Princeton Public Library every Thursday. This is the day Princeton Farmers Market comes to town, bringing a variety of locally-grown, raised, and produced items, including natural and organic produce, poultry, eggs, cheese, naturally-raised meats, breads and baked goods, flowers and more.

In the two years it has been open, it has become a Thursday mainstay, reinforcing what more and more people realize: healthy eating results in healthy living.

Sixteen area farmers and vendors display their products to an ever-increasing number of customers from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition, live music is offered from 12:30 to 2:30.

“It really is a special place.” says a regular customer. “I come nearly every week, and it’s wonderful to be able to get all the freshest goodies. It is also a gathering where people can get together, stay to have lunch, and meet a friend.”

Healthy Meals

The idea of Jack Morrison, owner of Nassau Street Seafood & Produce Company, Blue Point Grill, and Witherspoon Street Grill, the market is underwritten by his JM Group and Carlo and Raoul Momo of Terra Momo, owners of several restaurants in town.

Helping people to eat healthy foods and to support area farmers is an important goal, points out Judith Robinson, manager of the market. “Teaching people to eat healthily is not difficult, but it’s not just recipes and cook books. It’s a process. You develop a feel for it, and cooking healthy meals may not be as involved and as lengthy a process as people think.

“This is a passion for me. People really need a lot less food than they think. When you eat nutritionally rich food, you feel fuller. And you need a healthy balance of the right protein, the right carbohydrates, and the right fats.

“Also, a healthy environment can create healthy food. My philosophy is ‘Our World, Our Choice’. It is our choice how we treat the earth. You need to be an active steward. I have taught workshops on healthy eating, and I love soil, and have also taught a soil workshop. It’s a little miracle to see things grow.”

Ms. Robinson, whose background is in acting, directing, and teaching, is a strong believer in active participation. “I wanted to marry performing and directing with my passion for environmental issues,” she explains. “I love to create things, and I have also made a video on two young farmers.

“It’s important for people to know where food comes from. Children don’t know this, and neither do many adults. We need to learn new ways of doing things, especially new healthier ways. And the idea is to buy local.”

Regular Customers

“I love the creativity of the market,” she continues. “The variety, bringing in the food. It’s fun, too, from beginning to end. The soil to the market to the table. The whole process and the communication are so important. I love the atmosphere that has been created among the farmers and the customers. There are many regular customers every week, and also it’s very nice the way the vendors support each other.”

16 vendors from the area include Cherry Grove Farm for organic produce, raw milk, cheese, and eggs, and pastured beef and pork; Davidson’s Exotic Mushrooms; Longview Flowers; Terhune Orchards, Tassot Apiaries for honey and beeswax products; Lima Family Farms for grass-fed poultry and eggs; Whole Earth; and Witherspoon Bread, among others.

“Every week, I also invite an organization which is either connected to the environment or to food or is socially conscious to be at our guest table,” says Ms. Robinson. “Our recent guest was the League of Women Voters, which registered people to vote right at the market.”

The market, which opened in June, will continue to be available through November 4. On that day, there will be a special Holiday Market including the creations of area crafters and artists.

Basic Appreciation

Ms. Robinson notes that everything is popular with customers, some of whom come to purchase a variety of many products. Others select just one or two items, and of course, some products are seasonal.

“Some who come for the first time may never have met a farmer before or even seen certain kinds of vegetables,” she reports. “It’s educational, and it helps to build a basic appreciation of nature and a way to be healthy.”

Ms. Robinson definitely has the courage of her convictions. She grows a variety of tomatoes and other produce in her home garden and is a member of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). In addition, she is a long-time canner, specializing in tomatoes, as well as chili and barbecue sauce, and peach chutney.

Also, she points out, “I believe in being practical. We want healthy food to be available to as many people as possible, whatever their strata in society. It’s practical application to real life.”

She notes that “our prices are comparable to those in food markets and sometimes lower. Others might be higher, such as chicken at $3.50 a pound. But this is great chicken. It goes further and tastes delicious, and it’s so nutritious.

“I’m already looking forward to next year,” she adds. “The Farmers’ Market is a way to introduce healthy eating to people, and it’s fun! “

The market is open every Thursday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (551) 655-8095. Website: princetonfarmersmarket.com.

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