For many Hoboken residents, it has become a summer ritual.
Tuesday afternoons, after a long day of work in the city, the urban workforce exits the PATH trains in pressed shirts, ties and business suits to stroll past the annual summer Farmers' Market to grab bags full of New Jersey's freshest homegrown produce, flowers, and baked goods.
The seven-year-old Hoboken Farmers' Market is one of 35 urban markets operating in New Jersey and is co-sponsored by the City of Hoboken. In the mile-square city, it has been a successful marriage of the urban and rural.
One advantage of the market is that farmers are able to access a clientele they may normally not reach. Another is that a professional crowd is able to find that fresh fruit or vegetable to top off their gourmet meal.
"The Hoboken Farmers' Market really serves three purposes," said David Calamoneri, the manager of the market since 1996. "It helps small farmers in New Jersey sell their produce by giving them a venue they would otherwise not have. Local fresh fruit and vegetables are brought to the residents of Hoboken by the people that actually harvest them. And last but certainly not least, the [market] has served as a gathering place for the community, where people exchange smiles, thoughts, and recipes."
The market was first started by the city's Environmental Committee in 1997. Customers at the market are greeted by a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and bakery items made with organic ingredients.
Robin Whitney, who has volunteered her time to help promote the market for the past seven years, said one of the biggest advantages of the market is how fresh the produce is.
"All of the produce is grown in New Jersey, and because it's an afternoon market, almost all of it is picked the very day of the market," she said.
Because of ongoing construction at the Clam Broth House restaurant, the Farmers' Market has temporarily been moved to Washington Street near the corner of Newark Street. The market will be open from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every Tuesday through Oct. 29.
Made in New Jersey
Too often, New Jersey is improperly saddled with the negative and unfortunate national image as an urban wasteland, but farmers' markets like this one and others around the state are proof that agriculture and farming are booming businesses in New Jersey.
According to state figures, last year alone agriculture had over $62.5 billion in total economic impact in New Jersey. In fact it's the state's third largest industry after pharmaceuticals and tourism.
New Jersey's agricultural industry has maintained a strong and adaptive character. With nursery and greenhouse production topping the list of list of New Jersey's agricultural products, the state ranks third in the Northeast in agricultural production and annually ranks in the top 10 nationally in the production of fruits and vegetables.
Free vouchers for seniors
Discount coupons for Hoboken's 2003 Farmer's Market will be available Monday for Hoboken residents who are income-eligible Medicaid or PAAD, announced Mayor David Roberts.
Those individuals may receive four $5 coupons to be used at the Farmer's Market.
"New Jersey offers a bounty of some of the finest and freshest produce to be found anywhere. I am pleased that the coupons will allow income-eligible residents the ability to purchase even more of the fresh fruit, vegetables, and baked goods found in the state," said Roberts.
The coupons are available at the Senior Citizen Office, 124 Grand St. For more information, call (201) 420-2054.