Saturday at the Farmer's Market in Westfield

After the usual early-morning work out at the Y, which turned out to be a little later this Saturday, we decided to go to check out the Westfield Farmer's Market that is happening during the Summer months on the south side parking lot.

For some reason Westfield is a little late in starting the Farmer's Market. E.g. the one in Scotch Plains started about a month earlier. The weather is certainly good enough and I believe the demand would also be there.

Now, the Westfield Farmer's Market is nothing dramatic or even impressive. It is typically 6 vendors, two produce stands, two bakeries, one pickle/olive and one mozzarella/focaccia/ravioli.
So it is not like a real town market that you would typically find in a European city. And even when we lived in California the farmers markets there, in towns similar to Westfield, where quite a bit larger and more diverse. Still, for New Jersey it is actually not bad.
Because of the limited amount of vendors, competition is not working well and prices are bit on the high side, so this really feels more like a gourmet market than a normal weekly market where you would go for good deals and the ability to bargain. For me a gourmet market would mean that you can get specialty/unusual items that are not typically available, as well as produce that is fresher and better quality than in the supermarket. The Westfield Farmer's Market, IMHO is somewhat of a hybrid. The prices are at the gourmet market level and there are a few specialty items that are not easy to get elsewhere in town. The quality and freshness is probably above average but not that much. And the vendors are typically not that open a bargaining attempt.

Picklelicious is one noteworthy vendor there. They offer a variety of pickles and olives. Good quality and a few unusual flavors and tastes. You can sample almost everything and the merchant is helpful and friendly. You buy by volume (half pint, pint, etc.) and they are really stuffing as much as possible into these plastic containers. Quality is pretty good although the olives are bit too salty for my taste.
At the next booth we got some sun-dried tomato focaccia. It looked good at the display. At $4 for a fairly large bread prices are OK. At home we realized that somehow the sun-dried tomato didn't benefit from the long baking process and half of them were blackened and had a bitter taste. So to really enjoy the focaccio which was not that bad, you had to manually remove the blackened tomato topping.
A poppy-seed pastry from the Lithuanian bakery was good but nothing special and almost a bit too chewy. The produce we got was pretty decent and above super market quality.

In summary: If the Westfield Farmer's Market really wants to be a gourmet market, it has to grow up a little bit both in quality and the amount of vendors.

The other thing I don't understand: Why is market on the South Side. I would suspect that it would get more "walk-in" shoppers that happen to do some business in downtown Saturdays and then more by coincidence go to the market. With more shoppers in the market it would also be more attractive for additional vendors. I could see the market happen on the parking lot North of the train station or on the one south of Trader Joes.
Or if one really wants to be bold we could close a street as some towns in Europe do. E.g. Quimby street comes to mind. I could imagine that this would create a nice atmosphere and also benefit some of the jobs there.

Signing Off - The Westfield Blogger

1 comment:

Natalie said...

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