By Anthony J. Machcinski
Kearny residents were treated to some of the culinary benefits of rural New Jersey when the Kearny Farmer’s Market returned to town on June 28. The annual event is currently in its seventh year as a main attraction for area residents.
“Anytime you can bring in fresh vegetables to the area it’s a good idea,” said Kearny Councilwoman Susan Mc- Currie, who helped bring the event into town.
McCurrie got the idea from surrounding towns such as Rutherford and Hoboken, who have their own farmer’s markets. When researching how to bring this event to town, McCurrie realized that Kearny posed its own unique challenges.
“Unlike other communities that have transportation hubs and train stations, we don’t have them,” McCurrie explained. “Our challenge was to find a way to put the market in a place with good foot traffic without having the extra boost provided by transportation hubs.”
While the town explored several options, one suggestion struck town officials as the best way to go.
“We started in front of Town Hall,” McCurrie said. Then it moved to a larger space in the parking lot across from Mandee Shops at Kearny and Bergen Aves. once the event “got big and successful,” she said.
Locating the event at the Kearny Ave. location benefited not only from foot traffic into the market, but it was good for area businesses as well.
“Residents from other areas such as Harrison and North Arlington are aware that we have a farmer’s market and they do some shopping around,” Kearny Urban Enterprise Zone (KUEZ) Director John Peneda said. “This creates more foot traffic for other businesses on Kearny Ave. It’s really a win-win situation.”
The track record built from previous years has generated excitement for this year’s event, which, in turn, led to the creation of a cookbook aptly titled, “The Kearny Farmer’s Market Cookbook,” an 81-page culinary anthology in which residents provided their own recipes to incorporate the numerous ingredients found at the market. Proceeds from cookbook sales benefit both the KUEZ and the Friends of the Kearny Public Library. The cookbook retails for $9.95.
Residents’ enthusiasm stems from the quality of the product they receive at the market.
“The produce is freshly picked, sometimes that morning, by the vendors who sell them so you know that it’s fresh,” Peneda said.
Vendors for the event come from Union Hill Farms, of Denville, and Alsteade Farms, of Chester. Kearny officials found them through the New Jersey Council of Farmers and Communities (NJCFC), a non-profit organization that serves as a liaison between farmers and market communities.
“It’s more than just providing healthy food,” McCurrie said. “It’s also helping support New jersey farmers.”
While the event has been financially viable, McCurrie believes that the market’s real success comes from the involvement of members of the community.
“You’ll find that the same people come here every year,” McCurrie said. “There’s a group of dedicated individuals that come here every year and see each other. It truly becomes a community event.”
The Kearny Farmer’s Market takes place every Thursday from noon until 6 p.m. in the parking lot across from Mandee on Kearny Ave. from now until mid-October. The fruits and vegetables offered vary according to the season, but include berries, peaches, lettuce, cabbage, and squash, summer staples such as corn, tomatoes, and melons, and early fall classics such as apples and pumpkins.