Marlboro Township Farmers’ Market looks to expand after debut season
MARLBORO TOWNSHIP — Just up Route 520 in Monmouth County from the long-established Red Bank Farmers’ Market sits the newly created Marlboro Township Farmers’ Market.
Created in this spring, it officially opened with a dedicated-but- small number of vendors on June 23.
Market manager Pamela Caputo is looking to expand the market and do more with the spacious site in coming months and years.
Even better, the 60-acre former Stattel Farm was purchased by the township a few years ago with the help of some state Green Acres funding and will be permanently preserved open space, a good thing in an area that houses ever expanding numbers of former New Yorkers.
Marlboro Mayor Jon Hornik held a formal ribbon cutting ceremony on June 30 with elected officials and the township’s Economic Development Committee.
Despite temperatures rising again to about 90 degrees, the market on the last Sunday in July had a steady stream of visitors and a shaded parking area behind the farm market where visitors can park quickly.
Caputo, who started several women’s wellness centers in lower Manhattan and one very successful operation in Eatontown, has long been passionate about “green markets” in New York City and passionate about organic and farm fresh food. She launched the Eatontown Farmers’ Market a number of years back with the assistance of the local merchants’ association there and created a successful farmers’ market in Sea Bright in 2014.
Given her success in Eatontown and Sea Bright a number of years back, Caputo launched her own consulting company, CoGro. Her business card states: “COmmunity Greenmarket Organizers. Helping Towns and Farms Co-Grow.”
In 2015, she wrote to officials in Marlboro and Manalapan townships to pitch them on the idea of starting up their own local farmers’ markets, “because there was nothing like this out this way.”
Marlboro officials contacted her in the fall of last year to ensure a smooth start-up for their market this past spring.
“We have a great selection, a finely curated selection of offerings here,” Caputo said when asked how Marlboro’s market would be different.
“We needed to include some farmers who know this business and have been in business for a while,” Caputo added. So she sought out vendors like Cherry Grove Farm, Pickle Licious and Baker’s Bounty.
“These people all know how to set up at the market, they’re all big players, we don’t have to worry about them, they’ll come in, set up right, and their product is second-to-none.”
“For the rest of our vendors I am looking for local and new, so we have here a very interesting collection of new vendors, Annie and Em’s Bake Shop, a recently-launched gluten-free bakery, and we have Norma and Juliana who just launched From the Garden, and they sell honey and cut flowers.”
Thrown into the mix in Marlboro are smaller-but-ambitious farmers like Damian Walcott of Little Box Farms and Geert Marien’s Navtan Farms on Tennent Road in Marlboro, where he is working the land there to become certified organic.
“We also have Local 130 Seafood Company, a very big player in Asbury Park and Long Branch, they just keep expanding,” she said.
Aside from Oliver Hammill’s Cherry Grove Farm in Lawrence, another established certified organic farmer from Hillsborough who participates is Jon Knox and his Dogwood Farms operation, which he runs with his wife Kim and a small staff near the Duke Estate and Farms off Route 206 in Hillsborough.
“We opened on June 23rd, a little late, but the town hadn’t decided what they wanted to do for sure until April, so my hands were a little shackled. We still have ten anchors that are out here every Sunday,” Caputo said.
To add to the ethnic mix, Caputo has already added baklava and havla makers to the mix, but they aren’t there in the extreme heat where their product won’t do well.
The Marlboro Farmers’ Market, 438 Newman Springs Road is open every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“This is a passion for me, I love what I’m doing curating the market, putting together different merchants so there’s no competition between vendors for now. For me, we need to go a whole year before we have some competing vendors, to grow the market properly, for me it’s a win-win for the community,” Caputo said.
“This is not my living, it’s my passion, and the town owns this property now so when I walk away, they town can put in a volunteer farm market manager and it should run like clockwork if they don’t mess with it to much,” she said.
“That’s what I like to do, set up and install the market, let the people know about it and hopefully come out and support it, let the local farmers grow so we can all enjoy more fresh and local food.”
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