The Farmer's Market

by Charles McGrath


Something from the distant past was the Farmers Market, Down Neck off of Chapel Street. This was truly Americana. To my knowledge there was no other market like it in New Jersey. My father would take us there back in the 1940's to buy fruits and vegetables.

As we all know the train started to pull out of all the major cities back in the 1950's. Newark was probably one of the first trains. The Garden State Parkway, N.J. Turnpike, F. H. A. ,V. A. and cheap farmland were the accelerant of those trains. The cities were purged!

I know that today the largest migration of people is taking place in third world countries. Mexico and obviously China are in the forefront. But guess what they are going from the rural to the urban areas.

We did it the other way. We left our metropolitan areas only to spend several hours each day driving back to them. Generally speaking there is very little employment elsewhere. Somewhere in between we lost the source of our culture. There are no neighborhoods out here.

Back in the 1990's I worked as a consultant for Comcast. I used this opportunity to take a good look at southern New Jersey. I wanted to see the source of some of the things that made New Jersey great. Remember our State song "My Garden State"? Also the lyrics from a long forgotten song or poem:

Peaches grow in Florida,
they grow in Georgia too,
but it takes a state like Jersey to grow a peach like you.

How about chicken and dairy farms, Jersey corn , peaches , apples , strawberries , blueberries and other labor intensive crops. They are becoming a vestige of the past. Soy beans are one of the big crops on the large working farms today. We have some of the richest fertile soil in this country. What are we doing with a lot of it? We are putting housing developments on it. Does that make sense?

I can still remember like yesterday going to the Farmers Market in the evening. That was the time the Market came to life. The Market was like the flea markets of today. The farmers would park their trucks along a walkway. Their produce would be placed on the walkway in wooden baskets. The sale would continue from the evening until the next morning. It was during those early morning hours that the store owners would come to buy the farm fresh produce for their stores.

In the 1940's it was a vibrant place. There were all sorts of talking , yelling and shouting . Many of the voices were of a different tongue. It was an exciting place when you consider what they were peddling. I think it was the Lone Ranger who said " everything changes put the truth ".

The loss of the Farmers Market was truly a loss.


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