Farmer’s Market giving back to the community
By Hannah Yi
A fall sun shines down through the trees on Cook Douglass, and the smell of food as vendors begin to cook for lunch wafts through the air. College students and faculty start to make their way towards the Farmer’s Market, ready to buy fresh produce or lunch.
New Brunswick Community Farmer’s Market has allowed residents, students, and faculty to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at an affordable price for the last several years. With the addition of vendors, it is a weekly event that brings the community together for the better good.
NBCFM collaborates with other organizations as well, such as Rutgers against Hunger and the City of New Brunswick, to not only increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income members of the community, but to also increase awareness of healthy eating. A partnership between Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Johnson & Johnson, and the City of New Brunswick started around 2009.
Justin Park, a sophomore in the pharmacy program, said he really enjoys the Farmer’s Market.
“Back at home, I go to farmers markets, so I was really excited to find one on campus,” said Park. “The fruits and vegetables are definitely fresher than those from the grocery store. It seems more natural, and they’re different, it’s not all uniform and identical, but you see the color variation and different shapes and sizes as well.”
The NBCFM, located on 178 Jones St. near the Cook Douglass campus, and another location on Kilmer Square Park, made a decision to add one more location near the Cabaret Theatre bus stop to make it more available to the students at the request of the governing council of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and the associate Cook campus deans, Barbara Turpin and Judith Storch.
With music playing, and the beautiful fall weather, the Farmer’s market is busy with students, senior citizens and faculty. Many visitors come to not only shop at the farmer’s market, but to also check out the food vendors.
Estelle Orr, owner of Happy Wanderer Bakery, comes every week to New Brunswick from Trenton to sell her homemade cookies, brownies, cakes, and much more.
“It’s good business, because everyone likes cookies,” said Orr. “Most of the customers are students and faculty. It’s a great environment with music playing and good weather.”
Benson’s Barbeque, a southern-style, wood-smoked barbeque vendor, attracts a lot of attention from customers. With a new kitchen coming to Somerset in five weeks around mid December, the owner, Life Benson, is excited for his menu to be shared with the community.
“It’s a family-run business, and being here is a great small-market atmosphere, with music and good food,” said Benson. “I’m a good friend with the Farmer Pop’s Farm, which is the provider of the fruits and vegetables I buy for the fresh salads used in the menu. We are able to work together.”
Sarah Dixon, the senior program coordinator for NBCFM, was a volunteer for a year before becoming full-time staff.
“We are part of Rutgers and operating as well with Johnson and Johnson,” said Dixon. “It’s great to be able to increase access to the students and faculty as well as to the community. There is a variety of customers that come here to shop.”
Seniors attend the farmers market as well, and people who qualify for Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program associated with the Woman, Infants and Children supplemental food and nutrition program and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which assists in eligible, low-income individuals, can use their benefits at the market.
“For those with low-income, and food-insecure residents, we offer Market Bucks, which gives back 50 percent of what they spent,” said Dixon. “We also compare prices grocery stores and other locations to track the price disparity. We would like to continue to get good feedback from the customers, and it is good to offer fresh produce within the price range.”
The farmer’s market is open on Wednesday’s at Kilmer Park from 10am-3pm, and the Farmer’s Market Pavilion and Garden on 178 Jones St. on Thursday’s at 11am-3pm and Saturday’s 10am-3pm, until the week of Thanksgiving, with hopes to add another location in the next year, said Dixon.
For more information about the Farmers Market go to: http://www.nbcfarmersmarket.com/