Farmers market to come to Edison

Will offer fresh produce every Sunday in Clara Barton section

Sundays in Edison will get a little fresher, as a weekly farmers market gets ready to open in the parking lot of the Provident Bank off Amboy Avenue.

Announced during a press conference on July 15, the farmers market is part of an overall effort geared toward revitalizing the Clara Barton section of town, which calls for installing new infrastructure such as streetlights as well as bringing in new businesses and community projects. The revitalization plan is funded by a half million-dollar grant the township received around November of last year, and so the improvements in the area, including the farmers market, will not impact the local tax burden.

The grant, which comes from the Neighborhood Preservation Program of the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA), will come in the form of one payment of $125,000 and four annual payments of $100,000 after that. A committee of people who live and work in the area will control the funds, deciding what needs to be done and where. Meanwhile, the grant also allows for the hiring of a full-time staffer whose sole job will be to coordinate and oversee improvement efforts.

The market will be held every Sunday, July 27 to Sept. 28, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Already, four farmers have signed up to take their goods to the Provident Bank parking lot at 980 Amboy Ave., selling fresh produce such as corn, squash, zucchini and tomatoes. According to Mayor Jun Choi, it is the first regular farmers market in Edison since 1980.

Joe Coyle, chairman of the Neighborhood Preservation Program, was enthusiastic about the progress made to the Amboy Avenue area, noting that 20 new stores are expected to open over the next two years. The farmers market was yet one more manifestation of this progress, he said.

“We’re a long way [out], but we’ve also come a long way … I believe this grant is truly going to change Clara Barton,” said Coyle. Clara Barton is the name of the section of town with Amboy Avenue.

Choi said the township had been thinking of opening a farmers market for some time, noting that such markets can help contribute to the overall health and wellness of the area.

He also touted the benefits it can have for area seniors, many of whom live in the Clara Barton section of town. The Edison Farmers Market will participate in the state Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which provides $20 in vouchers for senior citizens to use at the market. More than two dozen Edison seniors have already signed up for the vouchers.

“The Clara Barton section has, on average, a more senior community than the rest of Edison, so this is a good opportunity to have them walk out and not have to trek across town to go shopping,” said Choi.

According to Sharon Gray, a Neighborhood Preservation Program coordinator for the Amboy Avenue area, the four farmers who have already signed on to distribute their goods at the weekly market are Rebecca Melick, of Hunterdon County, Dale Davis, of Stony Hill Farm in Chester, Joseph Skeba Farms, of Monroe, and The Pickle Man. She said that some farmers bring tents if it rains, but that it’s really up to the individual if they want to come in on a market day.

Overall, Choi praised the farmers market as a good way to build up the local community. He also expressed hopes that people from the surrounding areas would also come to Edison to shop, since it will be the only Jersey Fresh market open on Sundays.

“Let’s shop around, share some stories and build some community,” Choi said shortly before biting into a peach.

The mayor later said that the peach was pretty good.

– Chris Gaetano