The Marlton Farmers Market kicked off its 2021 season on June 2 at the Marlton Greene Shopping Center with locally sourced fruits and vegetables, baked goods, home goods, food trucks and craft products.
“We have 22 vendors, which is the most we’ve had since we started in 2019,” said Meghan Ruggeri, chair of the market committee.
During last year’s farmers market, the number of vendors was restricted by social-distancing protocols and capacity limitations, but this year, the weekly market was able to expand to include local farmers and Marlton business owners. Among those who set up booths at the event included Cheese Etc. & Gourmet Gifts, Cheyenne’s Road Market, Zed’s Beer and Pinelands Produce.
“I’m taking this on for the first time. Before, it’s always just my parents doing it with me, but now I’m doing it by myself,” said Cheyenne Higginbotham, owner of Cheyenne’s. “Seeing all the customers right now and actually seeing their faces because they don’t have to wear masks is great, because I was missing that connection so much.”
After the state decided to lift the outdoor mask mandate for all people in public spaces, visitors were able to walk around the market with or without masks.
Although restrictions are easing, the market still had barriers on June 2 to keep a safe distance between vendors and the public.
“After going through last year, we thought we had a good handle on it,” Ruggeri explained. “Even if we did still need to keep distance and wear masks, we were ready to do that, but we just kind of went with what the government mandates are and what the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is recommending.”
Shoppers were greeted with the sounds of live music and handed a reusable bag at the market entrance. While there were a handful of vendors and farmers, the market also had two nonprofits with booths set up in the center of the market. The Evesham police department was also represented.
“The police come out, they play with the kids,” said Councilwoman Pat Hansen. “We want our community to meet them, and they can come in and talk to them if there are any problems in their neighborhood.”
Zed’s Beer is the first brewery for the market; it had to go through multiple licensing agreements to get approved, Hansen recalled.
“We’re really excited. Marlton has been our home since the start, and we love supporting the farmers market in every way we can,” said Zed’s co-founder Lori White. “Now with the laws changing, we’re actually doing. It’s refreshing.”
“I think it really is a great space for the community to come together and to enjoy each other,” said Councilwoman Gina Espinoza. “As well as be able to promote our small businesses and our local farmers.”
The market will be open every Wednesday from 4 to 7:30 p.m. until Sept. 1, in the parking lot of the Marlton Greene Shopping Center, where East Main Street meets Route 73.