Less than a year after it , the Long Valley Green Market has made its presence felt locally.
And now it has the opportunity to shine on a bigger stage.
On Thursday, Aug. 2, the local market will be the kick-off point for New Jersey’s annual Farmers’ Market Week, organized by the department of agriculture.
There are 153 active farmers’ markets in the state, 14 of which are in their first year, according to New Jersey Department of Agriculture spokesperson Lynne Richmond.
Richmond said she keyed in on a new market to host this year’s kick-off, and the Green Market stood out for one particular reason.
“All the farmers’ markets in New Jersey know their customers and what’s worth selling,” Richmond said. “But (Long Valley Green Market) stood out because I thought their choice to keep everything local and have local vendors was great. Everyone’s from New Jersey, it’s all home grown. It’s a great representation of a community farmers’ market.”
Next Thursday, officials from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture, and local and regional dignitaries will be on hand to kick off the week and take a tour of the market, Richmond said.
‘Proud as Peacocks’
The Green Market, at this summer, hit Long Valley’s downtown in August 2011.
Founders Leona Harrington and Kate Munning developed the concept as a way to bring local vendors and artisans together to share their products with a consumer base unaware of the offerings.
“A lot of people have their own gardens and make their own clothes and try to do things that way,” Harrington said. “Some of us don’t do those things, but still want to buy the local stuff. This is an opportunity to have it all in one place once a week.”
Harrington and Munning, who both have fulltime jobs, combine to put approximately 35 hours a week into the market, including set-up and breakdown of the event on Thursdays.
But their efforts over the past year have made many people notice, including the state.
“We’re as proud as peacocks,” Harrington said. “I cant’ say enough about the impact it’s had on downtown. It’s a place where people can gather, see friends, hang out and shop locally every week. It’s been really exciting.”
“I’m over the moon,” Munning said about hosting the kick-off event. “It really came out of nowhere–it was a total surprise from the Department of Agriculture.”
Vision for the Future
About 25 vendors and artisans set up shop each Thursday at the market, and that’s a perfect number and size, Munning believes.
“Less than a year into it, we’re beyond where I thought we’d be,” Munning said. “I didn’t think we’d have that many vendors by now, and there’s a really nice balance. I hope it stays that way.”
Harrington, on the other hand, is hoping to make the already successful market even grander.
The market, which lines the sidewalk in front of CoWorking Long Valley and occupies the space inside the building as well, will run weekly through the end of the year.
But Harrington dreams of more.
“My dream is that someone–a local grocer–would rent the building for their business, and allow the market to run in it once a week, year round,” Harrington said. “I think the consumer base can support it. I want to fill up the whole place.”
However bright the future will be for the market, the present is certainly glowing with the statewide recognition.
And the green glow looks good for Long Valley.