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October 30, 2014
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community living

A farmers’ market is born in Milford

Milford Farmers’ Market, in its first year of operation, has become a popular Sunday destination for people wanting to buy local food from local farmers and food entrepreneurs.
TRR photos by Tom Caska

By Tom Caska

MILFORD, PA — A visit to Milford on any given Sunday has been enriched by the addition of the Milford Farmers’ Market, located in the courtyard of the River Rock Inn. Your senses will come alive as soon as you pass under the wisteria growing above the arbor gate at the entrance to the market, nestled under the shade trees at Second and Ann streets. The first things you will notice are the pleasant sounds of live music, played each week by local musicians who help set a “homegrown” stage for this event. These musicians donate their time, and on the day of my first visit here, we were treated to the sounds of Dave Wallace and his band Circle Jam.

Jolie DeFis, a Brooklyn native who now lives year-round in Milford, has helped to organize this market. She wanted to replicate the atmosphere of New York City’s famous Union Square Market. The idea is that everyone can do their weekly shopping—buying locally sourced produce, vegetables, meat, cheese, breads and bakery items—and it is working. On our visit, the market was alive with guests and families taking in the many attractions and educational opportunities.

The vendors are the big draw—both those certified organic and those who practice natural, chemical-free growing methods—who currently make up a mix of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania farmers. There is a waiting list of purveyors hoping to find a spot in this increasingly popular destination. The farm-to-table movement is alive here, and each vendor’s table brings a new appreciation and education of why locally grown and made goods are so important.

Jolie also is the founder of AIR, SOIL, WATER, a non-profit environmental group she started after moving to the area. Working with other grassroots groups, such as the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, AIR, SOIL, and WATER has become an advocate for renewable energy and other forms of sustainability. The Milford Farmers’ Market is a natural progression of a need she saw in the community, and with help of many community leaders she made this happen.

Making our way around to visit the various vendors, we found each had a unique story they were more than willing to share. We also were on a mission to shop for ourselves and bring home some of these delicacies.

Dave Zelov of Kittatinny Mountain Farm of Wantage, NJ told me he sells out early of his fresh-picked goods, and as the season progresses, he will have plenty more and a wider variety. His harvest this day included salad greens, radishes, carrots, multicolored beets and bok choy to name a few. Growing is one way of giving back to the community the healthy lifestyle they embrace on the farm.

Mosefund Farm of Branchville, NJ is proud to share its certified Mangalitsa pork. This special breed of heritage pig is highly sought after for its concentrated flavor and marbleized meat. The taste comes from the way they are raised and fed, requiring twice as much time to graze and mature. These are the choice cuts for chefs of many of the finest restaurants in New York and New Jersey. Mangalitsa pork found its way to the Top Chef/Iron Chef TV show as one of its prized mystery ingredients. We decided on some bone-in chops to try, already picturing them sizzling on the grill at home.

Wallington, NJ’s John Mohelsky of Johnny’s Local Raw Organic was a vault of knowledge on his favorite subject—honey. Besides being a certified organic farmer, John encourages the use of natural products to help our immune systems fight off diseases. During the winter, he ships his honey bees south to Florida to an orange grove where they help to pollinate the orchard. In return, he gets the Orange Blossom honey he sells. The taste is amazing, and he tells us not to waste it in tea since it dissolves in the heat and loses it medicinal properties. Rather, John advises, drizzle it over your food, or eat it with a spoon. That day he also had some blackberry/wildflower honey in the actual combs, and again the taste was magnificent. John was also one of the first to sign up for this market, and he is an interesting character, so be sure to meet him.

The list of current vendors continues to grow but includes:

Sugar Creek Maple Farm of Honesdale, PA offers a wide assortment of homemade maple products. We bought a beautiful bottle with a bluebird painted on the front as a gift for the maple syrup fan in our family.

Highland Kitchen, of our own hometown in Glen Spey, NY, had some freshly blended fruit juices that quenched our whistle. Lois Wallace sources locally for her juices and jams, and the strawberry bars were excellent.

A treat for the children can be found at Hidden Pastures Alpaca Farm from Branchville, NJ, which brings live farm animals each week. This week there were fluffy Angora rabbits that are as cute as they are soft to the touch. The farm also sells fiber from alpacas, Tibetan yak and cashmere ready for spinning and yarns.

Be sure to stop by Cakes and Scones Bakery of Greentown, PA. We could not decide just what to take home and chose a pecan square, a cherry/blackberry galette topped with almond paste. Our favorite turned out to be the crème brulee pastries, which we later heated and drizzled with the orange blossom honey. Sooo good!

Your sweet tooth can be satisfied at As You Wish Sweets of Dingmans Ferry, PA. Their candies are made with all-natural ingredients and no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.

The list goes on to include Maria’s Gourmet Edibles of Milford, Ed’s Heavenly Delights of Tyler Hill, PA, Meadowbrook Farm in Vernon, NJ, Quails-R-Us…Plus of Damascus Township, PA (meats are their “plus,” and we bought some ground lamb for our pitas.) Tough Chicks in Milford brought some adorable free-range hens.

On our way out, arms loaded with goodies, we made one last stop at Apple Ridge Farms of Saylorsburg, PA. We wanted a pretzel but were too late. (Mental note: get there earlier next time.) They specialize in wood-fired, brick-oven sourdough artisan breads. A loaf of seeded sourdough is all we can haul this day.

The grounds of this fair are the beautifully manicured English gardens and Koi pond of the River Rock Inn. The flowers bloom year-round as you step back in time to 1878, when the inn was built, to imagine many “white-gloved” gatherings held on the lawn. The restored inn is quaint in its Victorian style and serves as the perfect host every Sunday through November 2. The hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Go for the music, go for the farm-fresh produce, go for the sweets and other delights, or in other words—just go!