WHY THIS IS A MUST-READ
Find out where you can find fresh produce and support a local tradition at the same time.
HAWLEY - From spring through fall, many patrons arrive at Bingham Park on Friday afternoons in search of fresh foods. Last Friday was the third week of the Hawley Farmers Market and across the board, every shopper spoken to said they were in search of “fresh” and “local” goods.
Brenda Levitt for instance, raved about the beef jerky from Mountain Meats & More saying it had a “fresh flavor” and a “more moist texture” that made it taste like steak with a mild sweetness and heat as well a “tasty nuttiness” from the toasted sesame oil.
The owner of Mountain Meats & More, Matt Kelly only started selling his jerky last year, after making it for 10 years as a hobby. The hobby evolved from his son, Michael wanting to play with recipes. This is Kelly’s first year at the Hawley Farmers Market and so far, he said sales have been well, better then he expected at this point.
Making the beef jerky, Kelly called “pretty simple” as there are just a few steps that include half freezing it so its able to be easily sliced into “uniform thickness” then it has to be marinated for at least six hours over night, then it must be laid out on trays to dehydrate and cooked up to 155 degrees. He does however, check on the jerky to ensure it doesn’t get too dry or brittle.
Diane Arigto stopped by the market and bought cupcakes, cookies and mushrooms. Arigto too, said it was the freshness of the goods that attracts her to the market as well as the natural ingredients. Because of her dislike of preservatives, Arigto uses the foods she purchases to make many of her meals to be as “natural as possible.” The mushrooms from the market, Arigto described as “delicious.” Every week Arigto tries to get to the market, where she will use the foods she purchased and freeze some and then make soups and more to be “resurrected” for another day.
This is the first season Lynn Mazzga from Sweet Sensation Cakes is at the Hawley Farmers Market. Aside from hoping to attract more business, Mazzga said being at the market “sounds like fun.” With a private bakery in her home, Mazzga has been baking goods for awhile with all natural ingredients. Joyce Carson who is Mazzga’s sister in law and was at the market helping, said the success of Mazzga’s business is because everything is from scratch. A lot of what Mazzga knows about baking comes from classes and practice. Mazzga said she enjoys baking because it allows her to be creative while also making people happy.
Bob Martin was at the market with his wife Joan who both said the consistency of the freshness is what brings them to the market often. Most recently, Bob purchased some arugula, because aside from being fresh the price was right. Considering the cost of vegetables from supermarket to a vendor at the market, Bob said it is “comparable” but the key difference is the freshness of the goods he purchases at the farmers market. As well, he questions what pesticides are used or when the vegetables were collected if purchased at a supermarket. Then, Bob likes that he has come to know the vendors he purchases the goods from. Aside from the fresh food, Joan appreciates the homemade soups and organic goods available at the market.
From Hills’ Homestead Michael and Linda Hill who have a farm in Lords Valley, will sell vegetables as well as homemade baked goods, chocolates and granola at the Hawley Farmers Market this season. This year is the first the Hill’s will have baked goods, because only recently they were able to get their kitchen completed and certified. The couple enjoys selling their goods at farmers markets, Michael said because as a chef by trade he hopes to keep business local and help other vendors by using maple syrup for the granola from another vendor or the almonds will have honey available from someone else at the market. Keeping things local is important he said, because people need to support each other. Their baked goods, Michael believes are different then others because of the fresh ingredients that includes “good vanilla” and “Madagascar vanilla.” As well, over time he has played with various recipes and now has finally “perfected a recipe” that he feels will give people the best cookie they could have. The oatmeal cookie for instance, has a mix of dried cranberries, coconut, white and dark chocolate chips as well as fresh butter and eggs from his own chickens and ducks.
In the region from Montgomery County, Christine McGinn was with her mother Janice who both felt the freshness is the key to a good farmers market. At the Hawley market Janice purchased bourbon maple syrup which she described as “really good” as well as olives, fresh peppermint and they had planned on mixing watermelon to make sangria. The basil, was “gorgeous” because of the roots.
Every week, Market Manager Wanda Eisenhauer spends $50 purchasing goods because she can “go crazy” with the products from the various vendors, as she raved about the chicken sausage from Quail’s R Us that has basil and garlic she said.
The Hawley Farmers Market is growing, as there will be 22 vendors this year, in comparison to 14 last year. This year, the ice cream truck will be at the market every Friday and there will be a vendor selling dog beds and cat toys at some point. The hours of the market have been extended to run from 2 to 6 p.m., rather then closing at 5 p.m, like previous years so more can shop. The Hawley Farmers Market is hosted by Downtown Hawley Partnership.