For the first time since October, the Haddonfield Farmers Market sprang to life on Saturday, May 18, turning usually placid and picturesque Kings Court into a bustling bastion of close-knit commerce.
Almost two dozen stands were erected back-to-back along the middle of the thoroughfare, pushing pedestrians either to the left or the right to sample the various wares. Vendors with a long history of serving the public of South Jersey paired up with new businesses to create a warm atmosphere.
Even with the promise of better and warmer temperatures in springtime, successful open-air ventures depend heavily on weather, and the first market of its 13th season did not disappoint.
“This is our third season in Haddonfield, and our market first opened in 1961. Weather-wise, it’s probably our best opening day ever, and as we all know, the last couple weeks have been cold and rainy; we’re seeing a lot of our customers from past markets, which is always a good sign,” said Debbie Sorbello Connors from Sorbello Girls Farm Markets of Mullica Hill.
“I think it’s the people. It’s a great walking community, where parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren all come out on Saturdays to walk the neighborhood. It’s a great way to get to know people and share what we grow and love on our farm with Haddonfield.
Alison Carroll of Blenheim Natural Produce also celebrated her third season in the borough after five years in Blackwood, noting, “In my former experience there would be days when three people showed up, and that’s not a problem in Haddonfield. This is a very good venue. The management has been good; they’re cooperative, they’re kind, they’re flexible.”
The management being Ralph Ciallella, who brings the market to life each year through hard work. Ciallella arrives each market morning at 6:30 a.m. and stays through its completion in early afternoon.
“There are a lot of new vendors at the market and it’s terrific to see all the people out and supporting local farms, and artisanal food makers. It’s a great opportunity for us as business owners, to buy things from local farmers that we use in our dishes as well as supporting the community,” said Marcello De Feo, owner and operator of Valente’s Italian Specialties. “We got our start here (two years ago), Ralph was great giving us our first break.”
With all the talk surrounding vendors new and old who promote their own businesses thanks to the market, some still take time out to recognize fellow attendees for their respective goods.
“I have to tell you that a couple favorites are Kendall who brings a lot of fresh baked goods every Saturday, also (Muth Flower Farms) who design the fresh-cut flowers. Her arrangements pass by me all day long and they are beautiful if you’re looking for a centerpiece for your table. Buck Wild Bison and (Anita’s) fresh guacamole and Duffield’s which provides great produce as well,” said Sorbello Connors.
Of course, open-air markets plunked in the middle of a busy downtown aren’t just about the food, drinks and business transactions – it’s also about renewing old relationships and creating new ones.
“The weather started the vibe, the music continued the vibe so we’re really happy the way this turned out,” said the former of the musical duo Sam & Jacquie, who provided acoustic tunes throughout the morning from the Kings Court gazebo.
According to the latter, “It was a light, happy vibe for sure. It feels like the whole town is out. We met a bunch of strangers, who we hope will become new friends.”
As 10-year borough residents, Matt Portella, along with wife Lauren and children Ryan and Jake, come to the farmers market every chance they get and every weekend they can.
“We head to the farmers market and the downtown area so we can do a ‘family day,’ chill out, relax, enjoy a bike ride, the sunshine with no humidity. (We hit up) as many stands as possible: fruits, treats,” Matt said.
Haddonfield’s Farmers Market will take place on Kings Court each Saturday, rain or shine, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. through the Fall Festival in mid-October. For more information, including a full list of vendors, visit https://haddonfieldfarmersmarket.org/.
“I encourage everyone to come down each week through October. Come down and see your friends and neighbors and catch up while buying some good food, farm fresh vegetables and other accoutrements as well,” noted Mayor Neal Rochford.