Nowadays residents of North Hudson can hardly toss a tomato without hitting a farmers market. New markets have cropped up in Union City and North Bergen, joining existing ones in neighboring communities, and many people are taking advantage of the opportunity to purchase fresh, locally grown produce and other edibles.
The most recent to launch was the market in James J. Braddock North Hudson Park in North Bergen, just off the traffic circle on Riverview Drive. Open every Sunday from 9 to 2 through Aug. 30, the market was so popular on its first day, June 7, that many items were sold out by noon.
“I always wanted to bring more things into the park,” said Anthony Vainieri, who was elected Hudson County freeholder last year, taking office in January. “Everyone was saying the park is so beautiful and so underutilized. This was one of my visions.”
In collaboration with North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco and Hudson County Executive Thomas DeGise, he engaged the Washington Park Association of Hudson County, Inc., (WPA) to make the market happen.
Ellsworth Park market, Union City
The WPA is also responsible for the new farmers market at Ellsworth Park in Union City, held from 3 to 7:30 p.m. every Wednesday from June 3 to Sept. 30.
“Its takes place on the street at 24th and Palisade Avenue, not exactly in the park,” said Breanna Robles, who manages both markets for the WPA. “The shoppers walk on the sidewalk and shop.”
“The WPA met with Mayor [Brian] Stack in February,” said Caballero. “He was very excited. He said he has wanted to do one in Ellsworth Park for awhile.”
“What we ended up doing was bringing something that the communities were so hungry to get.” –Nick Caballero
“Weekends are always busy days for markets,” said Robles. “It was easier to get vendors to join us if we chose a weekday.”
“You need a good farmer to be the anchor,” stressed Caballero. So they arranged for Nolasco Farms to come during the week. “It’s an alternative option for people who go out of town during the weekend.”
The weekly event was heavily marketed on social media and through ads and flyers, and Stack arranged for a jazz trio on opening day.
In addition to the same vendors as Braddock Park, the Ellsworth Park market features Hoboken Farms baked goods, Gourmet Nuts & Dried Fruit, Bloombury Square skincare products on alternate weeks, and Nature’s Own eggs, honey, bacon, and produce.
They also feature Dark Side of the Moo and El Chilango Taqueria food trucks.
“When you look at the West Coast and New York City they usually have food trucks,” said Robles, who is studying city planning at Rutgers University. “They’re becoming more integrated in the movement toward fresh food and produce.”
“What we ended up doing was bringing something that the communities were so hungry to get,” said Caballero.
Troy Towers market, Union City
Union City already had a market in place next to the Troy Towers condominium. Established four years ago, it has been run for the past three years by Country Farms, from Warren County.
“At first people thought it was only exclusive to Troy Towers,” said Mary Jed, the board member at the building who created and coordinates the market. “We said no. People come now from the whole area. I knew that unless everybody supported it, Troy Towers was never going to be able to support it alone.”
Initially run biweekly, it is now a weekly event every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“This is a Jersey Council market,” said Tom Shamenek, who mans the stand each week. “If it’s part of a Jersey Council market you can only have Jersey Product. “Some of it’s coming up from South Jersey. Beets, peppers, eggplants. We grow all of this stuff [at Country Farms], it’s just that some of our stuff isn’t ready yet. But it’s all Jersey grown.”
In addition to produce, the market sells other natural items like syrups and honeys, as well as homemade pies and cookies. “Donna, the owner’s wife, bakes them in our bakery,” said Shamenek.
“I love the cookies,” said Alicia Oceana, who lives across the street from Troy Towers. “We try to come every Sunday. My mom and I are big fans of their blueberry pound cake. My mom tells me, ‘They’re here! They’re here!’ Because all the good stuff sells out quick.”
“I come every Sunday because I live right here,” said Troy Towers resident Susan Limbright. “It’s great because I don’t drive, so it’s much easier. Even the eggs are better here.”
With a limited selection this early in the year, regular customers are waiting for the summer specialties to arrive. “The melons and everything come out during the season,” said Limbright. “The peaches are fantastic. The corn is fantastic. The apples, honey crisp apples, they’re enormous.”
“I really like his corn salsa,” said Troy Towers residents Deeksha Chadha. “I usually get some of the baked goods. And fresh mozzarella. It’s so good. I always get that. Honestly I saw fresh mozzarella somewhere yesterday but I didn’t buy it. Because you see it in a shop or a grocery store and you think maybe it’s days old. Here I know.”
“There’s a man who makes it right in our kitchen,” said Shamenek. “He uses those real big vats. Saturdays he makes it for Sunday, Fridays he makes it for Saturday. We have people that tell us it’s as good as what you get in Hoboken.”
Donnelly Memorial Park market, West New York
Not to be left out, West New York launched their farmers market on June 6. Running on Saturdays from 8:30 to 2:30 through Oct. 31, it takes place at Donnelly Memorial Park, 60th Street and Boulevard East.
This is the second year for the West New York market. “Last year we did Thursdays,” said Cesar Aguirre, a Public Affairs and Recreation Department employee who oversees the market. “We wanted to do a weekend this time.”
Vendors include two farms. Country Stand, the Troy Towers supplier, is joined by Donaldson Farms. “Right now they have lots of greens,” said Aguirre. “Lettuce, cabbage, cucumbers, onions. And lots of desserts, pies, cookies. Once the weather gets better there will be more options.”
The market caters largely to the local community. “Most people in West New York don’t drive so they can walk,” said Aguirre. “Once school is done in a few weeks we expect more parents with their kids. It should pick up at the end of June, beginning of July.”
There are several farmers markets in other nearby towns on different days of the week, including in Hoboken and Jersey City.
Art Schwartz may be reached at email@example.com.