By: Jeff Schwachter
Downtown Millville is trying something a little different with its summer Farm Market, which begins this Saturday, June 22.
The Glasstown Arts District Farm Market, which will be held monthly on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (June 22, July 27, August 24, and September 21) will not have your garden variety farmer’s market fare.
People can expect some unusual and unique produce and specialty items such as Garden State Mushrooms, an East Vineland local grower of organic mushrooms, as well as locally grown herbs and flowers and even local honey.
“[Garden State Mushrooms] will be bringing gourmet mushrooms,” says Marianne Lods, executive director of the Glasstown Arts District. “They grow a big variety so they’re going to make up a really nice display. People don’t often get the opportunity to buy specialty mushrooms; supermarkets only carry a couple of types.”
Also at the market will be Kumarie Organics. Says Lods, “She is an organic grower. That’s the business name and it’s the grower’s first name as well. And she’ll have microgreens, lettuces — it will depend on the month, but she also farms berries. She has about 10 acres of farmland.”
Also on tap will be Ned’s Honey of Deerfield Township.
“The owner there, Doris Morgan, says that they will of course have honey, but they also will have some other products made with the honey, such as soaps and other derivatives.”
Joining the aforementioned growers will be Woodland Flowers.
“They’re right from over in Cedarville,” says Lods. “And they have several fields of beautiful flowers. I’ve seen them and bought them before. They’ll bring cut flowers, which is really nice.”
Lods says they just added an herbalist to the roster.
“She will not be at the June market, but she will be at the remainder of them,” says Lods. “She grows herbs of all types and then makes products out of them that you can use for topical creams and different things like that. I’ll be interested to find out myself what she has.”
Lods adds that they may pick up another grower or two as the series goes on.
“It’s not your ordinary farmer’s market,” says Lods. “You may not get some corn on the cob, but you can get that anywhere.”
At each of the market events, there will be live music and a crafts table for children and adults.
“And then there are all the shops at the Village on High, which are all little specialty shops, 10 different businesses,” says Lods. “Everything from beads and jewelry making, to small pieces of art and, of course, the Wildflower Vegan Café, which is hugely popular. And there’s a new little shop for quick bites called Simple Foods. They have stuff you can grab on the go.”
Every second Saturday of the month there are wine tastings at the Village on High. It’s been going on for a number of years, says Lods.
“The Octopus’ Garden puts that on and they get a nice crowd out there. Every month has a theme and there are food pairings with it as well, so some of the restaurants prepare food according to the types of wine that they’re going to have.”
Lods says the Village on High is the perfect place for such events.
“Anytime we’re having a downtown event, the Village on High is tied in as well because it’s one of our venues,” says Lods. “Although it’s private property there’s a great space outside for bringing some of the entertainment features of an event there and on our public plaza as well.”
Lods says she thinks an event like the Farm Market brings some variety to the downtown area.
“We did have a farmer’s market here for a number of years and it was very successful,” says Lods, “but some of the seashore towns opened markets on weekdays and we had very small growers — we didn’t have any of the big farmers — and they said, ‘We’ve got to go to Ocean City or Margate [or wherever] because we can make a lot more money there and we’re not big enough to do that many markets, maybe one or two at the most.’ So, we understood and we closed the market because without growers you have nothing.”
Then last year, says Lods, some volunteers who had businesses in the Village on High started putting together a once-a-month farmer’s market. The volunteers came to Lods at the end of last year’s market run to ask if she’d take it over under the arm of the Glasstown Arts District.
“I had gone a few times and it was very nice,” says Lods. “So, I said we’d be happy to take it over if we can get some funding. And we did get an anonymous grant from a local foundation, just to start the market and have some advertising money.”
Lods says part of that money will be spent on having a farm market representative on premises during the event each month this summer.
“We’ll have a market person there who will help not only the farmers, but give out information to any of the visitors, and let them know whatever else is going on in town that day.”
Lods says that while the target audience are the residents of Millville, everybody is welcome.
“It’s a festive little event,” she says. “It’s small, but it will be nice. We’ve gotten a lot of interest on Facebook already.”
Lods adds that the goal will be to build the market up this year and have a weekly market in 2020.
“With 2020 being the 20th anniversary of the Arts District, we want to revisit a lot of things that we did formerly and those that were successful bring them back,” says Lods, “and this may be one of them.
“It really adds a nice dimension [to the downtown],” adds Lods. “People should really spend their money locally and these are all local farmers.”
For more information about this rain or shine Farm Market, call 856-293-0556 or visit the Millville Glasstown Arts District Facebook page.