With New Jersey being known as the Garden State it only stands to reason that local produce and Farmers’ Markets would be popular in South Jersey beach communities, also known as “Down the Shore.” And it seems that most of the beach communities in South Jersey have a Farmers’ Market one day a week that sells Jersey Fresh local produce and much more. With so many markets you can hit one nearly every day of the week in a different shore town.
Here, I’ve put together a review of some awesome Farmers Market to check out when you’re on your summer beach vacation in South Jersey. I’ve ordered them by day of the week because I think it would be difficult to rank them, as each is unique in some way.With so many amazing Farmers' Markets you can hit a different one every day during your Jersey Shore vacation. #farmersmarkets #downtheshore #jerseyshore Click To Tweet
Sea Isle City
For me, this one is all about the location. You couldn’t get much closer to the beach unless you were actually on it. Unfortunately, the dunes block the ocean view but the breezes are wonderful.
This is a mid-sized market with a nice mix of vendors including, local produce, spices, pet products, crafts, and more. There are about 25 to 30 vendors without much product overlap. I imagine this is intentional.
The market is set up in Excursion Park which houses a small outdoor theatre. I would have liked there to have been entertainment, maybe music or a puppet show for the kids. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the space while sitting down to eat my Nutella and Banana Crepe from Crespella Gourmet Crepery whose brick-and-mortar store is in Stone Harbor. Yummy!!
Parking is a bit of a challenge despite there being a metered lot right there at the end of JFK Boulevard. I assume there is a lot of competition for space between the market and beachgoers. However, I didn’t have much trouble finding free parking on the side streets and walking a few blocks.
What I love – Location. Location. Location. This one is just about on the beach.
When – Tuesday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., mid-June to end of August
Where – Excursion Park, JFK Blvd. & Pleasure Ave., Sea Isle City
West Cape May Farmers’ Market
Besides this market being in one of my favorite place on the planet (not suggesting it is the best place in the world, just that I have an affinity for this south Jersey beach town loaded with Victorian charm), it is in the town consistently earning accolades as the best beach town in in New Jersey.
This market feels a bit like a cross between a farmer’s market and a block party. It’s one of the few afternoon/evening markets. And since it coincides with the dinner-hour you will find plenty to chow on. There are several food trucks and J.B’s Bar-B-Q roasts half a pig for their pulled-pork. Unfortunately, I was there toward the start of the event and wasn’t ready to eat. But judging by the line that formed as soon at the market opened, I have to believe J.B.’s is a winner.
In addition to finding options for your evening meal, they offer honey, CBD oil, local produce, jewelry, leather goods, and more. They have people on location to educate shoppers about ways to be more sustainable.
Adding to that block-party feel, there is live entertainment and if you’re in the mood for some corn-hole they have that too.
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The one thing about this market that is significantly different than the others is there were stations with realtors and even some flea market-type vendors. I don’t have an issue with the few flea-market vendors but I don’t feel like the farmers market is a place for realtors (too commercial, IMO). Don’t get me wrong, I get it.
What I love – This one is nearly in a farmer’s field. They offer live entertainment, food trucks, and ample on-site parking.
When – Tuesday 3pm to 7pm, late-June to late-August
Where – West Cape May Municipal Complex at the Backyard Park, 732 Broadway, West Cape May
This is one of my favorite markets. It’s large and offers a huge variety of products. You can find everything from local produce to pottery to pizza. Hmmm. All things I love. Additionally, you can find potted plants for your garden, cut flowers, bakery items, and thoughtful gifts.
A well-established market, the OC Farmers Market, brings out both the vendors and the shoppers. Despite the good turnout, there shouldn’t be any trouble finding a place to park. They have a parking lot and plenty of free on-street parking. I got a space just in front of the market. WooHoo!!
If you have teens, there is a skateboard park just next to the market. Send them there while you shop. This will keep them from pestering you with, “Can we go now?” And for the younger kids, the fire department is on hand with a ladder truck. Kids can climb to the top and get a selfie with a real-life firefighter.
While I was strolling the aisles, a vendor’s sign caught my eye because it had the location of their brick-and-mortar store. It is in the small town of Telford Pennsylvania which is not far from where I grew up. This prompted me to strike up a conversation with Jessie, the young man selling Nutty Novelties. As you may have guessed they make and sell nut butters. The stand out is their Pistachio Butter which has been featured in the Washington Post. I sampled a few of their offerings including the pistachio. It was quite delicious and I would not call myself a pistachio-nut. LOL.
What I love – Great mix of vendors and quite a lot of them. Activities for the kids.
When – Wednesday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., late June to Labor Day
Where – Grounds of the Tabernacle Grounds at 6th and Asbury Aves., Ocean City, NJ
Margate Community Farmers’ Market
This market came about as the brain-child of restaurateur, Cookie Till, owner of Steve and Cookies. You would never know this as the market doesn’t bear her name. But it is held in the parking lot of the restaurant located on the bayside of town. And as with everything Cookie does, she is very particular.
While not huge, this market has a nice collection of vendors including organic Jersey Fresh produce, food trucks, the best damn coffee around (I’ll get to this), fair trade items, non-profit organizations and more. I was told by one of the vendors that Cookie does not allow competing vendors. For this reason, you won’t find six booths all selling pickles or guacamole. But do stop by the Pickle Girl’s stand.
This market has been around for at least 10 years so it is well established. I recall going to this market when it was newish. This is when I met Harry of Harry and Beans Coffee who sells fair trade coffee that he roasts himself. He was a tiny operation then. When I returned this summer, I was glad to see he was still in business. Not only is he still in business but he has expanded his offerings. Remembering his coffee, I ordered a cold brew. I’m not kidding you; this was the best cup of coffee I’d had in years.
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What I love – Well established, no duplication of vendors
When – Thursdays 8:30 a.m. to Noon, mid-June to Labor Day
Where – Parking lot behind Steve and Cookies, Monroe and Amherst Aves., Margate
Smithville/Galloway – Galloway Green Market
Only in its third year, this small market offers a lot. In addition, to local produce, you can find baked goods, crafters and more. Even the folks from ReStore, Habitat for Humanity’s thrift store come out.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Ellen Farber, a designer affiliated with ReStore. We discussed the natural tie in of used furniture and décor items with the mission of sustainability. This had never occurred to me and if the practice of buying used and/or repurposing can be sold to a younger generation perhaps we can cut down on the waste of buying throw-away furniture and household items. Tangent over.
This is the only market in this round-up that is off the barrier islands that make up the Jersey Shore. Even still it is worth the 20-minute trip from Atlantic City. The produce market is held in the Historic Village of Smithville which is an attraction itself. Come for the market but stay for dinner at one of the nearby restaurants after exploring the shops of the quaint village.
What I love – Small market with a focus on sustainability. Pet-friendly.
When – Thursdays 4:00 pm – 7 pm, mid-June to late August
Where – Historic Smithville Village Greene, 615 E. Moss Mill Road, Smithville NJ
Ventnor City Community Farmers’ Market
In the interest of full disclosure, I was a Ventnor resident for 10 years so I have a fondness for the city. However, back then there wasn’t a Farmers Market. I think it is a nice addition to the city for its residents and visitors alike.
This is true community market. Families ride their bikes and you can find them hanging on the lawn together while live music fills the ocean air. You will find neighbors and friends catching up with one another.
I even had the pleasure of running into an old friend, Bernie Jenkins, a former Ventnor City Police Officers. Now that he’s retired and hung up his uniform he is selling his photography under the business name, Original Photography by Bernard.
In addition to photography and other arts and crafts, you can expect the typical farmers’ market finds. Some businesses you will want to check out include Philly Bill’s Dills and Tony Boloneys’ Food Truck. My husband is a bit of a pickle connoisseur. While doing the rounds at the markets I picked up pickles from a couple of vendors. His preference was Philly Bill’s. And if you stop by Tony Baloneys’, I highly recommend the Mexico Street-Corn Pizza. I arrived at trying this one by asking one of the servers what is his favorite pie. This was the one he recommended. As the name suggests, it’s not your traditional pizza. But one of the things I love about Sicilian pizza is the doughy crust. Theirs is soft and delish. I should mention, Tony Boloney is at almost all the Southern New Jersey markets. So if you miss them at this market catch up with them at another.
What I love – Family atmosphere, dog-friendly, feels like a true community market
When – Fridays 8:30 a.m. to noon, Memorial Day to Labor Day
Where – Holy Trinity Parish lot, Atlantic and Newport Aves., Ventnor
Brigantine Farmers Market
This is another great family-friendly market. In addition to all your typical market finds the organizers have activities for the kids, live entertainment and even cooking demonstrations. The day I visited was Pirate’s Day. There was a greeter wearing a pirate costume and welcoming shoppers. Another pirate was walking around telling cheesy pirate jokes. Argh!
Brigantine Farmers Market is one of the largest markets held in these Jersey Shore towns and a nice way to spend a Saturday morning. While there is no designated parking lot, there is plenty of free on-street parking.
The market is an endeavor by the Brigantine Green Team, a city-wide volunteer organization that promotes environmental sustainability. The market is just one of many projects the group undertakes.
What I love – Family atmosphere, live entertainment, kids’ activities.
When – Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to noon. beginning of July through the end of August
Where – Haneman Park, Bayshore Ave between 15th and 16th Street, Brigantine, NJ
There are other farmers’ markets along the jersey coastline and inland as well. These are just a few of my favorites. Check them all out and try to pick a favorite of your own.