Summer is here which means many things to many people, however, if you ask me what my favorite part of summer is, I would have to tell you farmers markets and gardening.
Seriously, what is better than going into your garden, clipping some fresh kale and rainbow chard, maybe a few sprigs of rosemary or basil, and biting into a fresh off the vine tomato? Well, it’s not better, but equally as good – talking with and meeting other people who share your love of beautiful Jersey Shore summer produce.
This is why the farmers markets aren’t just about stocking up your fridge. It’s also about stocking up your how to when it comes to cooking, baking, and yes, growing. If you’re one of those people who just tend to “grab and go” at the farmers market, take a few minutes to acquaint yourself with your farmer or purveyor. Not only will you get to learn more about where your food is coming from, but these lovely ladies and gents are the first hand source for finding out how to cook that zucchini in a way that you would never think. Or maybe they want to pass along some garlic leaves that turns out, are extremely delicious.
Either way, stop acting like the farmers market is just another stop at Wegmans (not that I don’t love Wegmans). Take advantage of the knowledge that these wonderful members of society have (and really – for the most part – would like to share with you!)
On another note, becoming friendly with your farmers will not only leave you with a full belly most of the time (if there’s an Italian purveyor, it’s imperative to become buddies with him or her), but it might also give you a chance to check out what life on the farm is like. Many of these farmers are always looking for a helping hand as they have jobs to do from sunrise to sunset. From weeding to shoveling shit and collecting eggs, you can get as dirty as you want.
The best part about connecting with your local farmers is the stronger connection you’ll feel with your food. Not only will that tomato taste a little sweeter after you’ve spent a few hours arranging compost over the beds in the hot sun, but you’ll also have given a little piece of yourself into that plump tomato. Blood, sweat, and lots of laughter never tasted so good.
Here are a list of some of my favorite New Jersey farmers markets. It’s time to grab your bag, give yourself an hour, and stock up on food and a new sense of appreciation for where it comes from!
Notable Jersey Shore Farmers Markets
Asbury Fresh, Asbury Park – Sundays 11am – 4pm and Thursdays 5:30 – 9pm
Check out this eclectic mix of farmers, DIYers, tasty food, and even handmade items including Sea City Skin Company, a local business that makes handmade, small batch skin care that is actually good for you and good for the environment. Another must stop is the Thompson Family Farm, owned since 1794, these farmers have responsible farming with organic produce in their blood.
Asbury Park Farmers Market – Main Street, Saturdays 9-1
My must stop once a week. I pick up eggs from Shangri-La farm where Elaine is always offering mountains of fresh organic produce with a side of laughter. There’s also Smiling Earth Elixers where my friend Stephanie farms most of the herbs and then creates tasty teas that will definitely leave you smiling. And then there’s the Italian – fresh mozzarella, freshly baked bread, homemade roasted red peppers and always a sample.
West Windsor Community Farmers Market – Saturdays 9-1
Voted the Top Celebrated Market in New Jersey and a Top 100 Most Celebrate Market Nationwide, West Windsor has it all, and I’m not the only one who agrees (obviously). Not only can you connect with those folks who grow and raise the food you’re putting on your table, but you can also make a day out of it with live music, prepared foods, cooking demonstrations, and special events every weekend.
Red Bank Farmers Market – Sundays 9-2pm in the Galleria Parking Lot
When I miss out on my usuals, I head to Red Bank on Sundays (early) because I can really get absolutely anything my heart desires. Fresh eggs, a sandwich, crunchy collard greens, and maybe even some flowers, this farmers market has it all.
Ok, I might have left the best for last. Whether you want broccoli, cheese, meat, or maybe you’re just really hungry, they have it all. I honestly don’t even want to hype this place up too much because it’s worth the shock factor once your senses take it all in.
So I’ve shared my tips and favorite markets, what are yours? What’s your favorite summer find at the market? Message me or share below! Happy cooking and connecting!