Fresh eats and friendly faces

Palmyra’s farmers market is officially off and running after a successful opening night on Thursday, May 16.

Devi James, who runs Sparrow Lakes Farm along with her husband Kevin, speaks with residents visiting her table at the opening night of Palmyra’s farmers market.

After a rainy start to the week, the clouds parted just in time for residents of Palmyra to enjoy some beautiful spring weather at the opening night of the annual Palmyra Farmers Market on May 16.

The market represented one of the first community events to take place at the newly renamed and renovated Chief Peyton Flournoy Park, formerly known as Grove Park, at the corner of Broad Street and Cinnaminson Avenue.

Residents enjoyed an evening of food and friends as the market featured something for everyone in the family. Food trucks formed an aromatic perimeter around the market, and local businesses like Jeny’s Java Joint, Soap Bar, Parker’s Flower Shop and Mama’s Homemade Cookies took advantage of an opportunity to share their offerings with the public.

The market also brought New Jersey farmers from Sparrow Lakes Farm and Peplowski Fruit Farm with some fresh produce for sale.

Sparrow Lakes Farm is run by two former Palmyra residents, Devi and Kevin James. According to Devi, the two were high school sweethearts at Palmyra High School. They married in 2000 and raised a family in their hometown until 2017, when they decided to make a move to Monroeville to pursue their dream of starting their own farm.

They didn’t think of the move as trying to get away from Palmyra, but rather a search for a space to do what they wanted to do with their farm. Devi always grew produce at their home in the borough, but could only do so much around a suburban home.

“We’re not escaping Palmyra, we’re just trying something new that we can’t do here,” said Devi.

Both Devi and her husband work full-time jobs outside of their farm. Devi is a special education teacher, and Kevin works in an office, but they hope to someday have the means to transition full-time to farm work.

The market represents more than just an opportunity for them to sell their eggs and produce, events like this offer them a chance to network with other growers and talk to people about the benefits of fresh-grown foods.

“We want to educate people about cleaner food and animal welfare,” said Devi.

Devi met Renee Peplowski from Peplowski Fruit Farm at the market, and the two decided to collaborate and drive as much traffic to each other’s tables as possible. Anyone who visited the Sparrow Lakes Farm table was provided with recipes featuring ingredients available at the Peplowski Fruit Farm table and vice versa.

“I don’t look at her as my competition,” said Devi.

Mindie Weiner, who sits on council and is an active member of the Palmyra Green Team, is one of the organizers of the market each year. She was glad to see the park renovations come together in time to host the event and couldn’t have been happier with the turnout.

“It looks so much better,” said Weiner. “This is a wonderful turnout, at one point I counted 125 people and we have almost a full house of vendors. This makes me very happy.”

Despite the effort it takes pulling the event together, Weiner looks forward to farmers market season every year as it always manages to bring the community together in one place.

“It is a lot of work, but when I’m here and I see all these friendly, happy faces, I just love the community aspect of it,” said Weiner.

The farmers market will continue to run every Thursday throughout the summer from 4:30 to 8 p.m. at Chief Peyton Flournoy Park.