Fresh rhubarb sold out in the first 15 minutes at the grand opening of the Springtown Farmers' Market. The 50 tree saplings given away by the market sponsor Springfield Tree Farm also found willing takers.Despite the threat of rain on Wednesday evening, June 4, there was a steady stream of vehicles filling the Springtown Fire Company's parking lot and an overflow lot at a business next to the fire company.
"It's better than our wildest dreams," said Maria Weick, SFM's manager.
With the purpose of promoting a sustainable food supply, the new market hopes to provide an opportunity for area residents to buy seasonal goods grown locally and products made locally. "Buying fresh strawberries in January is not a sustainable idea," said Weick about the market's goal. "Buying local helps to lower energy costs and fits food to the area," she added.
With a small grant and a large effort by community volunteers, Springtown's farmers' market brought 14 vendors from Bucks, Lehigh and Northampton counties for its opening night. As the summer growing season gets into full swing, more fresh produce will be available. Currently in season, area residents can expect to find rhubarb, spring greens, broccoli and other early crops. In addition to vendors selling herbs, organic foods, baked goods, breads, eggs, cheeses, soaps and fresh cut flowers, there will be chicken and pork vendors at the market, which will be open every Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. until Nov. 19. Meadow Brook Farms of Springtown and Purely Farms Naturally Pastured Meats of Pipersville are two of the regular meat vendors. The Springtown Fire Company, which is on Route 212 in Springtown, provides the market space and sells hot food.
The idea for the market originated when Tom Colbaugh and Jean Nick, of Kintnersville's Happy Farm, asked for the support of the Springfield Township Board of Supervisors to start a farmers' market. Modeled after the Wrightstown Farmers' Market, SFM is a producer-only market. Baked goods are made "from scratch" and/or use organic ingredients. Meats are hormone-and antibiotic-free. Craft vendors sell handmade products they produced themselves. There are no market fees for the vendors this season.
As the market grows, Weick said there are plans to feature cooking demonstrations by local chefs and highlight local artists and craftspeople.
Most farmers' markets are in cities, but S pringfield Township is a rural area, said Sherry Brodhead, who assists Weick and is on the board of directors of Cooks Creek Watershed Association, a market sponsor. An evening market gives people the opportunity to stop in on the way home from work to pick up some staples such as eggs, bread, cheese and coffee rather than going to a supermarket, said Brodhead of the idea for starting a village farmer's market.
"It's important for people to develop a relationship with the people who grow their food," said Weick of the vision she has for building community.
Jed Rapoport, co-owner of Haika's Kitchen, a specialty bake shop in Allentown, enjoyed the community atmosphere: people chatting with their neighbors, children playing with dogs. Rapoport, who participates in Boyertown, Macungie and Emmaus' farmers' markets, hopes the SFM turns into a community event. "It's an awesome location."
Most visitors liked the idea of buying local. Selecting a Lindner sapling to add to her 200 trees, Janet Cunningham of Quakertown, said, "We're always willing to support local farmers."
Carol Smith is the former editor of The Bethlehem News, and a freelance writer. She can be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com