By Michelle Pittman and Michael Buck; Photos by Michael Buck
Easton Farmers’ Market
Saturday mornings in Easton’s Centre Square are filled with vendors, music, shoppers and samples. As the country’s oldest continuously operating, open-air market, Easton’s has a lot to be proud of: the 2010 season had all 28 booths filled with sellers of vegetables, fruit, coffee, baked goods, eggs, meat, wines, jewelry and other wares.
No cash? No problem. Introduced during the 2010 season, customers can use debit or Pennsylvania Access cards to make purchases, ensuring that the market is accessible to many. Periodically, the market hosts festivals throughout the growing season that celebrate what’s fresh and in abundance—the strawberry, tomato, corn, and garlic, for example.
Shopping the market in one of the city’s oldest traditions. The 2011 opening will mark the 259th year of operation, making it as old as Easton itself. Runs from May 1 until late November, Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Take a short drive straight north on Sullivan Trail and you’ll find a small farm stand in Plainfield Township. Owners Mike and Annette Weeks, along with their young Rottweiler Roxy, are quick to welcome new shoppers and let you know what’s good.
The Weeks’ pack their stand with produce grown on the premises and other crops from ultra-local sources. In addition to eggplant, potatoes, and peppers, you’ll find several varieties of watermelon, Mike’s Produce’s specialty. When in season, usually around mid-July, Mike’s offers Sugar Babies, Sangrias (those torpedo-shaped ones) and yellow watermelon that are delicious eaten right off the rind.
Mike’s also has a great selection of flowers for just about any taste, along with Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish favorites like hot bacon dressing, pickled vegetables and plenty of jams and jellies. The drive up to the stand offers panoramic views of Plainfield Township’s farmlands and valleys; you can even see the Blue Mountain ridge from Mike’s parking lot. 6397 Sullivan Trail, Easton, Open Sunday from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. and the rest of the week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., May 1 through Thanksgiving.
Clear Spring Farm
Clear Spring Farm is the local place to pick your own fall pumpkins, but anyone who has visited the third-generation farm in the spring and summer knows there is much more to be had.
Owner Dave Kromer labors year round on the 29-acre farm, growing pumpkins, beets, tomatoes, squash, corn and just about anything else you can think of.
At the farm’s store, a little nook just off the main barn, customers will find farm fresh brown eggs and other non-vegetable goodies. A sign on the road tells shoppers exactly what is in season and for sale. Walk a little ways to your left from the farm stand and you’ll see curious goats, a few tractors and high-tunnel greenhouses, which house tomatoes during the summer growing season. Fields of winter squash await along with pumpkins, which are put in the ground in early summer for the fall carving season.
Clear Spring grows by trial and error, Dave says, mainly because what works one season isn’t always the key to growing a good crop the next. Pesticides aren’t used unless a crop looks like it’s not going to make it. All of which means that there’s always something new at Clear Spring, which is just a short trip from downtown Easton. 206 Garr Road, Easton, Open 9 a.m. to dusk
Past the traffic on Route 22 in Phillipsburg is an oasis of flowers, vegetables and fruit that’s been serving our little community for generations.
Piazza Farms offers a host of seasonal goodies, including fresh Jersey corn and tomatoes, and is renowned for its flowers, which are grown in greenhouses and fields just behind the farm stand. Until Piazza’s own stock is ready, the family imports early season produce from southern New Jersey, where the growing season is generally a few weeks ahead of the Lehigh Valley’s schedule.
Piazza Farms is conscientious when it comes to pesticides and has a 35-year partnership with Rutgers University that alerts them when prime time is to spray, meaning they have to do so as infrequently as possible. Rutgers also helps Piazza keep track of their soil and other scientific data points, which helps keep the farm in top shape.
Family roots run deep at this farm, which has been operating at the same spot in Lopatcong Township since 1949. Back then, the Piazza family would load up the vegetable truck and drive it into Phillipsburg to sell their wares. Now all you have to do is load up the back of your car with theirs. 71 Route 57, Lopatcong, NJ, Open 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
Klein Farms should be a required stop for Lehigh Valley visitors and residents alike. Not only does the Klein family make some seriously tasty cheeses and yogurt, a stop here gives you a lesson in where your food comes from. You can even introduce yourself to a few dairy cows while you’re there.
Located just 10 minutes from downtown Easton, Klein Farms has a bustling shop that offers the aforementioned dairy products, raw milk, smoothies (called Smoogurt, made with yogurt), fresh beef and eggs. And samples! The dairy shop regularly has tastes available for just about all of the cheeses in their case. Eat! Try!
The best part of Klein Farms is that nothing is off limits. You’ll find barn cats hiding in hay, peacocks sitting atop the dairy store and goats, chickens, sheep and geese just behind the store in their own little pen. You are free to explore the grounds, take your treats to the picnic tables while your kids hop on the swingset, and watch the animals fight to protect their turf nearby. 410 Klein Road, Easton, Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. all year
Reeder Farms offers a unique, hands-on farm experience. Owners Russell and Naydene Reeder maintain 117 acres of fertile farm land and sell the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor from their garage. If you go, expect to receive special attention. Repeat customers are the norm, so new faces are greeted with enthusiasm, knowledge and, if you’re lucky, a guided tour.
All produce is non-certified organic and the farm fields are open to tours pretty much any time—just be sure to ask first to keep the crops in top condition. In addition to the bounty of produce that is grown on site, Reeder Farms offers rare Bourbon Red turkeys, which are in high demand come Thanksgiving, and chickens that produce plenty of eggs, which are also for sale.
Russell and Naydene say they want everyone to experience the joy of growing their own food and have plenty of tips to get you started and keep your crops coming in. 4450 Richmond Road, Easton, Open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information about locally grown food and farms, visit buylocalpa.org/lehighvalley
Michelle Pittman and Michael Buck are frequent contributors to littlepocketguide.com and Michelle is also the Editor of the print version of laini’s little pocket guide to Bethlehem. They did a series on local food for this site last summer. Below are some of the posts if you’d like to check them out. Also, check out their blog,
Millions of Peaches, Peaches for Me!