By Steve Sears
There were the obvious huge challenges in 2020 with how farmers’ markets had to operate, and among those having to pivot were folks right in downtown Denville.
“With the pandemic situation, obviously, there was the big question of how do we operate it and how do we move forward,” says Liisi Lascarro, founder and manager of the Denville Farmers’ Market. “But customers showcase that they actually feel safer shopping outdoors, and it has been working phenomenally. All the customers have been super respectful, and there’s an opportunity for preorder. I think this goes sort of beyond Denville too, but customers really appreciate it. You know the personal touch that all these small businesses are offering, and the taking care of your personal safety level that they’re offering you. They all did good, and I think also in the customers’ minds everybody started thinking more so where the food comes from and what are the implications and what not. And there was renewed interest in getting your food locally, too.”
And, of course, the Denville Farmers’ Market operates outdoors, and social distancing is encouraged.
“We’re going into our 11th season now,” Lascarro says of the market. “It was when we bought a house here in Denville. It was clear that there was space for the farmers’ market, and there’s a wonderful community for a farmers’ market. I approached the township and they put all their trust in me.”
It’s all about local: local food, local farmers, and providing them an outlet and making that connection with the community. “The first one who I approached is actually Union Hill Farms, who does have a farm stand in Denville,” says Lascarro. “But we wouldn’t have started it without him. At first, he said Sunday is also farm stand day, but it is a big win win when you do have a farm in town. And it really is making the connection to the community and also vitalizing the downtown, for all the shoppers to come and enjoy the downtown. Denville is a very dynamic community.” From the beginning, Lascarro and team also set it up with buffet tables, music, and included not for profit groups who could promote themselves. “So, it’s all about local and community and a good gathering place on Sundays,” she says happily.
Denville residents and out-of-towners visit the Denville Farmers’ Market, and there are regulars who have developed friendships with the farmers. “They know what they’re getting,” Lascarro says. “There’s the opportunity to talk about food, there’s the awareness and knowledge on where the food comes from and connection directly with the farmer. So, just the education part of it, other than supporting the locally produced food for many benefits, is most certainly a reason why a lot of people like to shop at the farmers’ market.” The farmers’ market, however, is more than just farm goods and produce. Local artists and shops display and sell, there is a variety of vendors, and if you make a stop there on a Sunday, there’s a great chance you’re not going to go home empty handed.
The Denville Farmers’ Market regular season begins the first Sunday in May. “Think about the fresh food,” says Lascarro. “Think about the seasonal fresh food and all the benefits of it to take care of ourselves, and for everybody to be in good health.”
The Denville Farmers’ Market is located at the Bloomfield Avenue parking lot. The winter market is open 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Sunday, December – April, and summer hours at the market are 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday from May – November. For more information, visit www.denvillefarmersmarket.com.