The new place for tomatoes; Farmers markets proliferate in the city

The stretch of land that overlooks the Hudson River in Jersey City may be a Yuppie’s dream, but it’s been a fresh fruit nightmare until recently. That’s where Meg Cohen comes in. A Sussex Street resident and textile designer, Cohen began the Waterfront Farmers’ Market this year. On Mondays from 12 to 7 p.m. near the Exchange Place PATH station, one can pick up four peppers for a buck or fresh baked bread or an oregano plant. Cohen, scurrying around under the shadows of 10 Exchange Place, placing flyers into hands of passers-by, took a moment last week to talk about her new baby. “I live in Paulus Hook,” she said. “And there’s nothing. It’s a wasteland. You have to drive to get anything.” You can add Cohen’s market to a growing number of fresh farm stands in the city. First, there’s Hamilton Park Farmers’ Market. Founded by Alan Singer in 1998, the market boasts several farmers from the state. It’s a community-based market, and this year Singer plans on making home deliveries. The Journal Square farmers market, held Wednesdays near the PATH station, has been a mainstay for years. If early returns are a gauge, the markets are a success. “This is a long time coming,” said Caroline Pheffer, a computer graphics freelancer and Essex Street resident. “The neighborhood is changing so much. When they finish developing, there’s going to be a lot more people. When I got my flyer I got down here right away. I was such a child. I’m hoping it really catches on.” On his way back to work, a waterfront employee snatched some goodies. “I’m a friggin’ sucker for this stuff,” said the Spear, Leeds and Kellogg employee, who didn’t want to give his name, as he made off with loaves of zucchini, banana and blueberry bread. For some, patronizing the markets means not only fresh fruit, but also a sense of civic duty. “Why let the supermarkets get a big margin?” asked Richard Drown, a Spear, Leeds and Kellogg programmer, “when the farmers can get a big margin?” On Monday, Cohen said the mid-afternoon was the market’s downtime. But by four, traffic began to build again. Anthony Vacchiano, who runs a farm in Warren County and sells produce in Hoboken and Teaneck as well as the new Waterfront Market, said, “The first year is always a building year.” Plus, said Vacchiano, it’s more profitable for the farmer to sell retail than wholesale to large markets. For Dwight Hermit, a Morgan Stanley accountant from Brooklyn, the cherry he was sampling Monday was his first-ever purchase. “Mmm. It’s delicious,” he said. “I’ll definitely be back.” The markets operate one day a week. The Waterfront Market runs Mondays; the Journal Square market runs Wednesdays; and the Hamilton Park market runs Thursdays.


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