Brick Farm Market has recently opened for business at 65 East Broad Street in Hopewell.
Robin and Jon McConaughy have a mission: healthy eating, humane treatment of farm animals, environmental responsibility, sustainability, and a local focus.
“The demand for healthful, local products has always driven our desire to become farmers. Like most people who care about healthful food, we want to know about everything that goes into creating what we serve to our family and friends. After a lot of research, we decided that if you want something done right — do it yourself! We started Double Brook Farm in earnest in 2006. Our passion for a local, sustainable, and humane operation has guided our approach to the farm from day one.”
As interest in and demand for the high quality products the McConaughys were providing grew, they expanded their operation to include raising sheep, pigs, and turkeys in addition to the cattle and chickens. They also cultivated a section for vegetables, including lettuce, carrots, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and a variety of herbs and other produce.
Now, where to sell all this high quality, fresh, local food?
As Ms. McConaughy explains, “We created Brick Farm Market to be the dedicated outlet for the farm — a full-service market within a stone’s throw of the source: Double Brook Farm. The market enables us to interact with our customers and share with them how the food they are buying is grown, raised, or made.”
Opened at 65 East Broad Street in Hopewell on May 17 at the former location of the Malek Chevrolet building, the market offers a variety of items either from the farm, made on the premises, or from like-minded vendors who share the McConaughys’ mission.
“With the Brick Farm Market, Double Brook Farm, our restaurant, Brick Farm Tavern (to open in 2014), we have a local sustainable operation that takes food from farm to market to table, and then back to the farm in the form of compost or animal feed. Three entities that rely on each other to create a full-circle model of responsible food creation and consumption.
“What you will find at the market reflects a culmination of informed choices and best practices. From selecting the seeds we grow, to humane animal treatment, to limiting our fossil fuel needs with clean energy, to preparing recipes with choice ingredients to educating the customers, we are taking some of the guess work out of nutritious, local, sustainable shopping.”
Brick Farm Market offers an attractive, convenient two-story setting in which to display the variety of items. Upstairs, the butcher shop features artisanal cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and chicken, charcuterie, and cheese. A long counter offers ample space for seating.
Downstairs, customers will find a juice/water/coffee bar, creamery (ice cream and other dairy), produce and herbs, bakery, and prepared foods. Tables are available for sit-down eating.
The Brick Farm Market staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and happy to answer customers’ questions.
“We have very passionate, dedicated people working with us,” says Ms. McConaughy. “An amazing team of people. We want to be able to delegate and have a real partnership with them.”
General manager Deeann Lemmerling was previously with Bon Appetit in Princeton. Co-manager Jerry Baker is also a sommelier. Karen Child, formerly of The Village Bakery in Lawrenceville, is in charge of the bakery, and everything is made on the premises, including bread, croissants, cookies, brownies, Danishes, cupcakes, tarts, and cakes.
Bob Martinez, director of the creamery, makes the ice cream on-site. Single and double scoops are available in cones and cups, as well as quarts and pints. He is experimenting with new seasonal flavors in addition to the traditional vanilla and chocolate. Current specialties are blueberry gelato, salted caramel, and summer rum raisin. Ultimately, 32 flavors will be offered seasonally.
Chef Chase Gerstenbacher is in charge of the prepared foods, including rotisserie chicken, braised beef, chicken pot pie, shepherd’s pie, among many other dishes. He is also responsible for producing beef stock.
“We make our own bacon and sausage,” adds Ms. McConaughy, “and we also have a charcuterie, Salumeria Biellese, a certified slow food charcuterie in Jersey City, which uses our meat to make the prosciutto and other specialties.”
Michel Lemmerling, former owner of Bon Appetit, is the cheese guru (a “Taste Fromage”), and as Deeann Lemmerling points out, “We have an interesting cheese selection — all local, including brie-style, cheddar, Swiss, and gouda-style. Michel is an expert with cheeses around the world, and he is enjoying this new adventure, finding the best local cheeses.
“We also have ‘Aging Caves’ for cheese and meat in three refrigerators, and customers can look into these and watch it being aged.”
Wooden bins are filled with a variety of vegetables and herbs, and Ms. Lemmerling explains that the bins were made of recycled wood from a former church in Trenton. “We also kept some of the vintage signs from the Malek Chevrolet dealership.”
Among the tempting treats customers can eat at the market or take out is the signature hamburger for $8; a variety of panini sandwiches for $7; breakfast dishes (served from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.), including eggs benedict, egg white scramble with roasted potatoes, cheddar, and greens; and breakfast croissant egg, cheese, with choice of ham, chorizo or country sausage, ranging from $5 to $7. Large plates include roasted sausage sampler, beer braised short ribs, and half rotisserie chicken — natural or BBQ, among others.
Ms. McConaughy looks forward to Brick Farm Market becoming an important part of the community. “People are really enjoying the fact that everything is local, and I know they will love having the store here. We have local employees, and we will be a local place. I can’t wait to come in and see the place humming.
“Also, we are a local market, and we can run out of things. It will reflect the season. We offer what a local farm can provide. We don’t sell anything here unless we have grown it or made it. The exceptions are coffee and drinks, but they are local. Our stipulation is: did it come from the farm? If not, is it local? If it is not local, is it within a 100-200 mile radius? And is it from a company that supports our mission of fair trade and sustainability? We will continue to evolve, and we like to show that a local farm-to-table operation can be profitable.”
Brick Farm Market offers a number of other items for sale, such as coffee and travel mugs, baseball caps, T-shirts, and canvas shopping bags, all featuring the friendly Brick Farm Market rooster logo. Fair trade large woven bags are offered for shoppers to use in the store. Gift cards are also available.
The McConaughys landscaped the property surrounding the building, and the ample parking is a plus.
Hours through June are Thursday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday 8 to 6, Sunday 8 to 1. Starting in July, the market will be open Tuesday through Sunday 7 to 7. (609) 466-6500. Website: brickfarmmarket.com.