CRANBURY: Community markets return

It’s taken some time, but this summer the Cranbury Farmers Market is back in business for those seeking fresh local produce and homemade treats.

By Amy Batista, Special Writer
   CRANBURY — It’s taken some time, but this summer the Cranbury Farmers Market is back in business for those seeking fresh local produce and homemade treats.
   Friday afternoons until Sept. 27, the market will bring fresh fruits and vegetables to Cranbury. The market runs from 3 to 7 p.m. and is located at Park Place West on the grass common area.
   Nearby, Jamesburg’s Farmers Market is held Saturday mornings until Sept. 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Veteran’s Park.
   ”It started as a commitment by a resident of Cranbury, Susan Norman, who secured approvals and located the vendors for the market,” said Cranbury Committeewoman Susan Goetz in an email on Sunday.
   ”The idea was to provide access to fresh local produce and products and to provide a wonderful community experience,” Ms. Goetz said. “Due to work commitments, Sue was looking for a replacement manager for this year but we were unable to locate someone.”
   The market opened July 12 despite the rainy weather.
   ”Our first week was cut a bit short by heavy rains but the second week was great,” Ms. Goetz said. “A steady stream of people (came) throughout the day, even with the seriously hot weather.”
   According to the application, all produce sold must have been grown in New Jersey by the seller with the following exceptions: farmers agree to only sell up to three or four non-producer-grown produce items. and all items at market must be seasonally appropriate to what is grown in the region. Any non-producer-grown produce or product must be marked accordingly with state or farm of origin.
   There is no fee to participate in Cranbury Farmers Market but vendors are asked to commit for the season. For additional information, visit
   Members of the Environmental Commission “stepped up and volunteered” to help this year along with Ms. Norman’s assistance for the market to operate another season.
   ”Cranbury has committed to seeking status as a sustainable community,” Ms. Goetz said. “One of the requirements of the program is the assignment of a ‘Green Team’ as the point group for the program.”
   The Township Committee designated the Environmental Commission its Green Team, which is chaired by Barbara Rogers.
   ”There are a series of levels a community can achieve by undertakings certain projects geared to the priorities of a sustainable community,” Ms. Goetz said. “The farmers market is one such activity. As more activities are performed, certain levels of sustainable community can be reached. At this point, Cranbury has bronze status.”
   The market’s hours were changed from Friday mornings, but the change has cost the Cranbury market some vendors due to conflicts with other markets.
   ”In response to the suggestions by the residents, the time was moved to 3 to 7 p.m.,” Ms. Goetz said. “While this gives people the opportunity to visit after work, we did lose many of our vendors who had other commitments for Friday evening.”
   ”I’m so glad it’s back,” said Deirdre Bichsel, of Cranbury. “I like all the local, fresh vegetables.”
   A highlight for Ms. Bichsel includes the opportunity to meet up with people she hasn’t seen in awhile.
   ”This is my first time this year,” said Kathy Babcock, of Cranbury. “I think the pesto (from Silver Birch Kitchens) is a nice addition.”
   ”I actually came here looking for watermelon and no one has it for another couple of weeks,” Ms. Babcock said.
   According to Ms. Babcock, the highlight is that the food is “fresh from the fields. There is nothing like Jersey tomatoes and corn,” Ms. Babcock said. “That’s why I come out.”
   Jill Berner, of Cranbury, was shopping for local produce at Pop’s Farm Market and Garden Center with her son Adam Berner, 9.
   ”It’s busy but I would like to see a few other (vendors),” said Ms. Berner. Other people attending the event agreed with and commented on the amount of vendors at the market.
   According to Ms. Berner, a highlight was having the market close to her house and being able to walk to it and the local fruits and vegetables.
   Silver Birch Kitchens, of Long Valley, was at the market for the first time.
   ”It’s going great so far,” said Scott Cleveland, of South Brunswick, who was helping out with his wife, Angela, to run the stand, on behalf of her brother and sister-in-law.
   ”We do relatively well,” Mr. Cleveland added.
   ”We are trying to help them grow their business,” said Ms. Cleveland.”It’s all locally, organic and made from local farms, except for the olive oil,” Mr. Cleveland said.
   Mary Blair, of South Brunswick, was browsing fresh produce at stand of the Brown Dog Produce Simonson Farms of Cranbury.
   ”It’s very cute,” said Ms. Blair. “I want the fresh peaches.”
   Samantha Jany, of Cranbury, and owner of Brown Dog Produce Simonson Farms, is working on creating a new way to help make the family farm “sustainable.”
   ”We are actually known for our Christmas trees,” said Ms. Jany. “I started the vegetables four years ago when my son was 1. It was slowly picking up.”
   According to Ms. Jany, she started this side of the business because she wanted to know what her kids were eating.
   ”We needed to diversify so that one day the farm can support our entire family,” Ms. Jany added. “In order for a farm to be viable in New Jersey you have to be diversified.”
   George Clark, of New Brunswick was running the Princeton Cupcake stand for his mother, Pansy Clark.
   According to Mr. Clark, they specialize in cupcakes — red velvet, vanilla, and chocolate — along with a variety of breads, cookies, brownies. Jellies and jams are also sold.
   ”The market has been very supportive of us,” Mr. Clark said. “They have been embracing our products. The people have been very nice.”
   According to Ms. Goetz, the town does not make any money on the market, “at least not directly,” but it does encourage visitors to visit other downtown businesses after shopping at the market.
   ”We are thrilled that they are willing to do this and hope that Cranbury comes out strong to support them,” Ms. Goetz said. “We are promoting a ‘Shop the Market and Stay for Dinner’ idea and have menus from the various wonderful Cranbury restaurants available at the market.”
   Vendors include Pop’s Farm Market and Garden Center, of Monroe; Brown Dog Produce Simonson Farms, of Cranbury; Princeton Cupcake of Princeton; and Silver Birch Kitchens of Long Valley.
   ”We hope to add musicians to the event,” Ms. Goetz said. The organizers are soliciting musicians and seeking sponsors so that they can be paid to entertain at the event.
   ”We also will have the Cranbury Library there to read to children and Princeton Fitness and Wellness has a display there,” Ms. Goetz said.
   There is a Facebook page, Cranbury Farmers Market, in addition to a street banner hanging up, yard signs, and flyers posted throughout the community to promote the market.