Story by Sara Paul
A trip to the Warwick Winter Farmers’ Market is not simply a quick stop for some Sunday morning staples. On the contrary, when strolling through this indoor Pine Island venue with a few extra minutes and some genuine interest, the Market, located at 115 Liberty Corners Rd. is a veritable journey through one’s rural senses.
The Warwick Winter Farmers’ Market opened its 2018-19 season on Sun., Dec. 2 and will be open every Sunday through May 5. Upon entering the smallish and sometimes chilly rustic warehouse, smell the fresh baked bagels and muffins by Aimee Notaro, owner of the Kookie Queen. Aimee whips up a different variety of gluten-free treats each week, even concocting her own waffle and pancake mix.
“It’s so comfortable here. All the vendors are fantastic and I feel like the customers give everything a try and that’s what a market is all about,” says Aimee, who was inspired by her daughter’s gluten free diet to make all things gluten free. “So they won’t even know the difference.”
Next in the culinary tour is a taste of some perfectly pickled picks served up by Rutgers University junior Zach Stoker, who has been working for Dr. Pickle for three years. The pickle aficionado secretly divulged the ingredients to his company’s famous “Melish” recipe.
“This is the only place you can get this,” says Zack of the mustard, sauerkraut, horseradish brine, and dill relish concoction which, as legend has it, a New York Giants chef bought to serve to his team.
For the snack lovers, Kariba Farms has a large selection of dried fruit samples. Even a finicky youngster was spotted enjoying some of the fruity treats.
“They taste like fruit roll ups and are better for you,” smiled co-owner Don Apolito. With his business partner, Steve Testa, Don specializes in all natural, USDA Organic Certified and Star-K Kosher Certified foods. The company, whose founder helped build the Kariba Dam in South Africa, also boasts NutCrusters, a healthy alternative to bread crumbs.
Customers also enjoy the Spanish-Mediterranean tastes of Cornucopia Concept Hudson Valley Custom Catering. Owner Nicholas Mouhteros offers catering for every size event, noting that his dishes are “always fresh, always local.”
Moving along, one can see and touch the textured, decorative hand-crafted soaps and other original raw honey and beeswax products from the hives at Buster Bees. Owner Bonnie Gaspar offers soaps, balms, and other cool looking stuff for everyone in the family: moms, dads, babies, and even family pets.
Perhaps the best experience of the senses is to actually hear the stories of the local entrepreneurs: their history, their passion, and their processes. Learn how Michael Grisafe, owner of Bella Mozzarella in Fairlawn, NJ, delicately invents his handmade fresh and smoked mozzarella and burratas. Discover how the funky mushroom medleys from Dan Madura Farms are carefully cultivated year round in trailer trucks turned into growing houses. Madura’s grand-daughter, Kim, explains how the mushrooms are grown on indoor logs, while the farm’s other veggies and herbs are cared for outdoors.
Emma Meier was on hand to represent Jean-Claude Pastries. After working for the company for many years, Emma is “like family” and is tres heureux to help bring authentic French baked goods to Orange County. By noon, Emma was sold out of the stand’s popular quiches.
The market is well balanced with homemade pierogis and kielbasa from Florida Bakery and Deli, and 100 percent grass fed beef from Kiernan Farm. Also of note is Back to the Future Farm Old Mother Hubbert and Dairy, the first on farm fluid milk producing plant in Orange County in 40 years.
Green Mountain Energy, a wind and solar power supply company, provides an informational table right by one of the two tall space heaters (a nice spot to chat with representative Wilson Lee, who is friendly and knowledgeable – plus it’s a warm spot!).
This year’s market represents an increase in vendor participation, according to organizer Peg Hillery.
“Our participating vendor list has grown, increasing the variety of farm grown and locally produced items at our market. This influences our shopper numbers and we see more customers coming through the door each week,” said Peg, who is also the owner of Peg’s Eggs and Honey with her husband, Jack.
Peg values the personal relationships that are made and the wealth of information available about local foods being purchased when shopping directly from the source, not to mention the economic benefits of shopping local.
“There are so many shop-from-home grocery programs these days that farmers’ markets compete with. However, you don’t get to talk to the farmers and producers of food you’re eating when they arrive in a box at your door,” Peg commented.
Market customers, both new faces and regulars, agreed that the venue is an asset to the region.
“It’s great to have local farmers at a market. They need to make money or they won’t be here anymore,” ponders Rich Hoyt, who was traveling from Montgomery, NY on a day trip with his wife, Annette. The couple was happy to purchase some bacon, eggs, and syrup.
Loyal customer Gillian Columbus was weighed down with about six bags of healthy products.
“I really like everybody here and I value the quality of the food. I like to support local farms and I feel better about that,” commented the Florida, NY resident, who says that raising a nine year old makes her want to buy and prepare healthy food. Gillian is typically at the Market every week.
Other vendors include Cedar Rock Products, Lowland Farm Grass-Fed Beef, Rockland Bakery, Pie Eyed Bar Pies, and Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery.
The Warwick Winter Farmers’ Market accepts cash and checks, while individual vendors accept debit and credit card transactions. The Market will be open every Sun. through May 5 and will be closed on Easter Sunday, Apr. 21. Market hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information call 258-4998, send an email to email@example.com, or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.