A strong farmers market season despite pandemic

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MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The Maplewood Farmers Market moved a few blocks over this year, but business has still been booming. On the corner of Springfield Avenue and Yale Terrace, the market has been open for the last few months and will stay open through its normal season, which lasts until Thanksgiving.

“I think we’re busier than we were before,” Glenn Michalowski, Maplewood’s assistant township administrator, said in a phone interview with the News-Record on Sept. 21. “Most people are home. They’re not commuting and then rushing over to Springfield Avenue. Maybe they feel safer in the open air than they do in a grocery store.”

The market was moved to Yale Terrace from its original spot a couple streets over because of the larger space and ability to social distance. Michalowski said Maplewood wasn’t sure if the market would be able to open this year. But by following in other towns’ footsteps, like Summit’s, a plan was formed. Rutgers University’s New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station also released guidelines that Maplewood has been following.

“Initially, we were going to plan a single-file line, so people could go through the stations and pick what they wanted,” Michalowski said. “But people would cut the line. So we worked with others to come up with a plan. As the governor relaxed rules, we were able to open it more.”

Stony Hill Farms and Alstede Farms, both based in New Jersey, have produce available at the market, and there are other local vendors, as well. The cooling weather isn’t changing the schedule.

“I think because of the nature of the circumstances they had more of an opportunity this year,” Michalowski said about the farms. “I don’t know that they can sustain without it. You have a little bit of everything there.”

Photos by Amanda Valentovic