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Northern farmers’ markets try innovations

By JANE PRIMERANO
AFP Correspondent

Farmers’ markets are in full swing around Northern New Jersey, seeing crowds increase.
Often the first weekend of a market corresponds with the local high school graduations, resulting in lower turnout.
A representative of the Foodshed Alliance that runs Blairstown’s Farmers Market noted the harsh winter that closed schools moved graduations of different high schools to different weekends which may have compromised the markets as well.
Blairstown is one of several markets that hold cooking demonstrations.
In Blairstown, a chef will choose produce from various vendors and cook something on the spot.
Sparta has also had cooking demonstrations.
Whether or not to allow dogs is always an issue.
Independence Township farmer Bob Best says he doesn’t like it because owners get distracted.
Illustrating his point, a dog lifted his leg to a potted plant one recent Saturday and it took several people calling to her to get the owner’s attention.
But many markets welcome dogs with water stations.
Hopatcong Councilman Michael Francis has been known to watch dogs for shoppers during the market.
Many markets have rotating vendors.
Belvidere has chalkboard signs that can be changed each week, Ann Tan, a member of the market committee said, so people coming to the market on Garrett Wall Park can tell at a glance who is vending.
Markets are capitalizing on the value-added idea.
Meredith Acly, farm manager of Aspen Ridge Farm in Oxford, sells Jersey Barnfire Hot Sauce, which goes well with her meat, at the Belvidere market.
The summer is still young, but markets are seeing more patrons.
Tan said Sunday, July 6, was so busy she hardly had time to eat lunch. And that’s good news.