MILFORD - Rain or shine, May through October the Milford Farmers Market is a place where local homegrown produce, baked goods and more is available.

In four years, the market has been based in three different locations. Now, with the start of another season, the market is at The Columns Museum because “we persevere,” said Lenore Fasula, one of the market founders. There are “obstacles” to providing that support she feels, as more education is needed about sustainability, healthy foods and the need to create a healthy environment. It is through the market though, that information can be available.

Fasula along with Jolie DeFeis decided to start the market after protesting a planned route for a natural gas pipeline together; although that didn’t work out how they hoped, she is pleased to see how positive the market has been for the community. 
Despite the struggle to find a home, Fasula said the founders have not given up because they believed there would be another location and the market had to “succeed” for the community and people who love the market, music, fresh food and the products the vendors provide. This year, there is yoga happening, and information and guests to help people “learn about healthy living.”

Labor of love

The market, DeFeis called a “labor of love” as it is also a “benefit to the community.” But she too, likes spending a Sunday outside with friends, enjoying the music, shopping and eating. An additional bonus for the new location, is that more people will become aware of The Columns Museum and perhaps, the American flag that bears the blood of President Lincoln.  

Year by year, there have been changes and growth and because of the public’s request there is now water for sale with 25 vendors total, five that are new selling honey, dairy products from goats and cows as well as stuffed breads and jam.

It is easy to spend half a day at the market, Anca Pulis the market manager and co-organizer said since people can shop, hang out, have lunch or visit the museum and then walk into town and shop some more. For Pulis she enjoys seeing everything happen and appreciates the support of the public, she said, because she feels it is important that people know where their food comes from.

Aware of what she ate

It was after having her child that Pulis learned about the importance of knowing “where your food comes from” and how eating and buying local is significant since it means supporting the community she said. After she became more aware of what she was eating, it was then that Pulis saw a difference in herself. 
Although she does grow some of her own food, during the market season Pulis purchases lots of foods, which she then plans her weeklong meals on. Rather than using sugar, Pulis will purchase a gallon of honey or maple syrup at a time as an “alternative to sugar” she said. Considering the costs of items at the market in comparison to the supermarket, body wash for instance, Pulis said spending $4.00 on a bar of soap at the market is better than purchasing a container of body wash that is derived from water and chemicals. Whereas the $4.00 bar of soap, could last a month. The money spent on the items at the market, Pulis believes is fair because of the labor needed and the special ingredients.  

Visit the museum too

Lori Strelecki, the Columns Museum curator said spending time at the market, makes for a “nice day out in Milford” and the hope is more people will visit the museum. Besides being a location for the market, the possibility of the museum having more on market days whether presentations or lectures, hasn’t been decided yet. But, Strelecki hopes people will enjoy the market first and then consider the museum because the Columns no longer receives funding from the state. While not in trouble, if things don't change, Strelecki said the Columns may be, so hopefully the community will learn what the museum has to offer and become a member or give support in some way.  

A regular visitor to the market, Erin Ruppert was with her children Elliott and Caleb on the first day of the season. Every week the family purchases foods from some vendors, as well as fresh vegetables while catching up with friends. The family, Ruppert said tries to eat a “nourishing clean diet” from the local foods. While “it can be costly,” the family plans the meals and takes advantage of the community supported agriculture (CSA) from Kittatinny Mountain Farm so they receive their vegetables during the summer which she feels is “more cost effective” than purchasing vegetables each week.

Nice fresh food

Ellen Phelps visits the market often she said, because it is where she gets “nice fresh food” and has “fun.” Phelps feels the market is fun because it offers people a way to support local vendors who sell fresh and “very delicious” foods that include cheddar chive bread and potato pastas made with heirloom potatoes and raspberry hand pies from Apple Ridge Farm based in Saylorsburg.

It is because of Milford, that Steven Hendershot from Flatbrook Farm in Montague, New Jersey likes selling his produce at the market. For the first day, he had radishes, dills, cilantro, lettuce and kale. That produce however was just the “very first pickings” from his garden, Hendershot said. So, later in the season there may be scallions, carrots, beets, sugar snap peas, lettuce, summer beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers that are “garden classics.”

Last year was the first Christopher Wilson from LunaGrown Jam was at the Milford Market and he is back this season with jams from his farm in Wurtsboro. Wilson grows a “majority of the fruits” used in his jams that are made on the farm he said.  In the “jam business” for five years, Wilson believes his jams are different then what can be purchased in a supermarket because of the reduced sugar and “chunks of fruit” that makes the flavors rather than the sugar. The jam is “real,” he said, “rather then proceeded.”

Dennis Ball and his daughter Sarah have been licensed to make wine for two years and they started last May. This is their second year at the Milford Market and business is booming as they now sell beyond markets. On the first day of the market, Dennis said business was “phenomenal” because the “regulars” were back.

Megan Crawford from Milford called the Ball’s wine “amazing” because of the flavor combinations that she believes can’t be found elsewhere and feels the way the grapes are combined is “creative.” Crawford was at the market with her husband TJ and 9-month-old son Boone and friends. Every Sunday the family visits the market because it is “amazing” she said with a laugh, as there are friends to be with, food and vegetables. Crawford too, said the foods are different then what would be purchased at a supermarket and she too, is interested in supporting local businesses. At just one vendor, Crawford purchased a loaf of seeded sourdough bread, a stuffed pretzel and sundried tomato focaccia bread. TJ said an ATM is needed at the market. Fog Wood and Fig is the couple’s favorite vendor because of the “off the hook vegan food” said Megan. The flavor combinations of the foods from the business makes the foods great as well the owner pickles her own onions and the burger combination of vegetables and rice was just “awesome” said Megan.

Every weekend, Dianna Lyon and Kevin Walter visit the market with their daughter Frances. Dianna said she shops at the market to support local, sustainable agriculture.

With so many who don’t care about sustainability and agriculture, Lyon feels is important to be aware for the “sustainability of our planet.” But, an additional bonus to visiting the market is that the “food is yummy.” Once the summer starts, because they have a CSA with a farm, the couple will just visit the market for juices, breads and specialty items.

Good for community

Supporting local businesses, Liz Hartman from Montague, New Jersey believes will bring a “positive energy to the community” she said. Since the start, Hartman has visited the Milford Farmers Market and at the opening day she purchased a burger from Fogwood and Fig as well as minted honeydew juice that was “fantastic.”

Linda Coss was with Hartman but she had lemonade that was “delicious.” At the market, Coss bought a bay leaf plant, that she hadn’t been able to find elsewhere and she plans on using the leafs to add to soups and sauces. From the market, Coss likes the breads, pastries, sauces and “buying local” because there are things not available elsewhere she said.

The Milford Farmers Market runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday at The Columns Museum, 608 Broad St., Milford, till October 15. For more information visit Air Soil Water’s website at https://airsoilwaterorg.wordpress.com/.