A summetime favorite: Farmers’ Markets in northeastern Pennsylvania
With a sea full of friendly faces and fresh fruit, meats and vegetables everywhere you turn, Scranton feels a little bit more like the country at the Cooperative Farmers’ Market. The 4-acre site off Providence Road and Albright Avenue houses 40 stands with overhead roofs, a paved midway, free parking, food concessions and more. 2012 will be the market’s 73rd season featuring home-grown and freshly picked items by the farm members. The Market is open every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at noon with live music every Monday.
Along with a wide variety of seasonal home-grown freshly picked fruits, vegetables and herbs, you will find baked goods, jams and jellies, honey, eggs, cheese, freshly cut and potted flowers.
The market started 73 years ago with a group of farmers from the Newton area that sold their produce to stores, restaurants and the public on Lackawanna Ave. After several relocations, the group of farmers bought their property (which was former circus grounds) from the city around 1939. There are third and fourth generations of those original farmers still at the market today.
The market was originally intended to take place at night, but has evolved in order to meet the customer’s needs. “The farmers would pick their vegetables during the day,” said Ruth Griggs from Mountain Road Farm. “And when it cooled off in the evening, they would head to Scranton. Over time they slowly pushed the time up to more of a day market. The farmers would try to be there at 4 p.m., but the customers would be there at 3 p.m. waiting.” People still can’t wait to get their hands on the freshest food available. “What we have blossomed into is more of a day market. We advertise we open at noon, but usually by 10:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. all the farmers are set up and ready to sell.”
The market has witnessed quite a boost in business the past several years. “In the last few years, we have seen a turnaround in (the customers) thinking,” Griggs said. “They are educated. In the past, you really had to educate the customers. That has changed. The consumer now wants to know what they are eating, where it came from and what is in it.”
Griggs knows how important the history of the market is to her and the community of farmers she works with, and she can’t help thinking about all of the families she interacts with on a regular basis (Grigg’s grandfather was also one of the founding farmers). “To me, it means everything. Without that history, what are we? We as third and fourth generation farmers are feeding third and fourth generation customers. We have so many young people coming to see us and they say ‘I remember coming to this market with my grandparents,’ and now they are bringing their children. They’re watching our children and grandchildren grow up as well.”
When asked about the benefits of buying goods from the Farmer’s Market, Griggs doesn’t hesitate for one second. She knows the answer.
“The main benefit is that you know what you’re eating. You are shaking the hand of the person who raised your food.”
— tom graham
There is nothing better than enjoying a meal prepared with fresh food from local farms. In addition to the Cooperative Farmers’ Market in Scranton, there are many other great Farmers’ Markets. Here are just a few:
South Side Farmers’ Market — United Neighborhood Centers’ Elm Street Initiative will host its third Annual South Side Farmers’ Market every Saturday through October, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.. The market has moved to a new location this year at the Scranton Iron Furnaces, 159 Cedar Ave., Scranton. The market features fresh food and other items from local vendors such as Sugar Loaf Herb Farm, Maple Lane Farms, the Anthill Farm and more. In addition, Marywood University will offer free cooking demonstrations each week.
Abington Farmers’ Market — Located in beautiful South Abington Park, the Abington Farmers’ is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., from July 21 through October. The market features fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, baked goods and more, and all are produced locally. Special events will also be held throughout the summer, so be sure to visit www.theabingtons.org for updates.
Summer Marketplace — Wilkes-Barre is expanding its farmers’ market traditions to a new summertime event. This year, Mohegan Sun Arena hosts an outdoor Summer Marketpace every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Marketplace is held in the Mohegan Sun parking lot and will run until Sept. 4, rain or shine. Newly started on June 19, the event gives local vendors another chance to show off their wares. According to Mohegansunarenapa.com, the Marketplace includes locally-grown produce, baked goods, jewelry, collectibles and more. For local vendor interested in participating, contact Mohegan Sun at 970-7600 or email email@example.com.
Wilkes-Barre Farmers’ Market — Keeping with the Public Square tradition, the Wilkes-Barre Farmers’ Market has returned for the summer. The 39th season promises family fun, crafts and music, along with the essential ensemble of local vendors.
The fresh, homemade goods from local growers span a long and diverse list: artisan bread, cookies, cakes, pies, pastries, honey, apple cider, candies, jams, jellies, salsa, eggs and entrees. Food is not the only thing on the line-up — there are also flower assortments, candles and homemade soaps, lotions and oils. Some artists will also be on hand to show-off their face painting skills.
Lore Majikes, City of Wilkes-Barre special events coordinator, said the market is off to a great start.
“Due to the mild winter and the warm start to spring the farmers have been bountiful with their produce,” Majikes said.
Majikes said there are several new vendors this year to add to the returning veterans.
“We have Frankie’s Cold Pizza & Heroes Brew Coffee, Nice’s Old Country Style Almonds, The Beekeeper’s Daughter, Tarnowski’s Kielbasa, Maer’s BBQ, Transamerica Insurance, Grammy’s Apple Dumplings and City Light Church just to name a few,” Majikes said.
While you’re browsing through the vendors you’ll also be able to enjoy live entertainment. The market will be accompanied by the concert series, Music at the Market, from noon to 1:30 p.m. The schedule offers something different every week with themes for children. The schedule includes storytime with the Luzerne County Reading Council and music by The Sperazza Band on July 19, Nature Discovery Day and accompanying music by Mother Nature’s Sons on July 26, Children’s Day with music by Windfall on August 2 and Performing Arts Day with dance and music performances on August 9. Children can also enjoy a weekly bounce house through the end of August.
Local bands will continue to rock the market up until the last day, Oct. 11. The Public Square Farmers’ Market is held every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Pittston City Farmers’ Market — The tomato capital doesn’t just sell fresh tomatoes. The Pittston City Farmers’ Market is held in the Tomato Festival Lot, but there’s a full range of fruits and vegetables to chose from. The market is held every Tuesday at 10 a.m. on South Main Street in downtown Pittston. Along with fresh produce, local farmers sell baked goods to hungry visitors. The market committee is always welcoming new vendors as well. Call 570-655-2398 for more information.
— kirstin cook