Farming has never been easy but with supply chain issues, inflation and now extreme temperatures, New Jersey farmers are dealing with some of the most difficult conditions they’ve ever faced this summer.

A lot of New Jerseyans looking to lend a helping hand and enjoy the best fresh local produce available are heading out to a nearby farmers market.

According to Chris Cirkus, the market manager of the West Windsor Community Farmers Market, there are close to 150 farmers markets across the Garden State.

She said if a farm is represented at one of these markets “there is a staff member who is actually in the fields, they’ve got a jackpot (of knowledge) of how to store it, different varieties, why you should choose this over that.”

Lots to enjoy

She said over the years, farmers markets have become places where people can shop for fresh fruits and vegetables as well as different crafts, jewelry and specialty items that are produced locally “but you can also get beer and wine and distilled spirits and mead and hard cider, so for some people, they like it just for that.”

She said people enjoy farmers markets for many reasons.

Courtesy Chris Cirkus
Courtesy Chris Cirkus
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“It’s a place to come to listen to the music, we have seniors that come, they don’t spend a dime, they simply come just to be part of a community.”

Cirkus said some farmers markets bring together an eclectic mix.

“We have people who drive from Philly and somebody who comes from Staten Island every week and someone sent their mother from Atlantic City, it’s crazy to see how people hear about things but it’s also so much fun to watch,” she said.

Feeling the food

She noted a lot of people are so busy these days that they wind up ordering their groceries from one of several services online, but when that happens, something is missing.

“Seeing and touching and smelling and feeling the food that we’re eating, and knowing when it grows in season is a big piece that we’re sort of losing,” she said.

Courtesy Chris Cirkus
Courtesy Chris Cirkus
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Cirkus said the West Windsor farmers market has representatives from 20 farms, with 18 or 19 in attendance every Saturday, and this summer there is also a home baker with a large following selling products, and a specialty bread baker who also attracts long lines.

“To see these little incubator businesses happen and then thrive is really this gratifying piece of a farmers market, you’re not getting that in a grocery store,” she said.

She said farmers pay a nominal fee to be part of the market.

The West Windsor Community Farmers Market is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, at the Princeton Junction Train Station parking lot.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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