In what its proponents said could foster healthy eating habits and serve as a boon for the town’s retail establishments, Point Borough Council is open to the prospect of bringing a farmers' market to its town. Open to discussing bringing a farmers' market to town, at least.
Months after an initial effort fizzled out, council is authorizing the Climate Action Committee (CAC) to solicit farmers and vendors about the prospect.
Though approval of an actual farmers' market will take time and discussion, Mayor William Schroeder said, the move would allow the borough to at least gauge interest as it moves toward a final decision.
CAC member Chris Constantino addressed the council Tuesday night and said farmers' markets go beyond fruits and vegetables. Markets bring additional visitors to towns and, according to studies, those visitors spend money beyond the markets at local businesses, he said. Farmers' markets help residents shop locally and even have tangential positive properties, like reducing our carbon footprint, he added.
“This is supposed to work for everybody,” Councilman Chris Leitner said. “It will benefit the community.”
The farmers' market authorization was a late addition to the agenda, which caused consternation among some members of the council. With assurances that the matter would be discussed further, requiring input from the public and the Borough’s business community, council unanimously approved the measure.
Point Borough probed the idea of bringing a farmers' market to town at the start of the year, but realized that even as early as February it was too late to plan one for the upcoming growing season. It’s not a commitment to bring a farmers' market to the Borough, but could help the Borough entice vendors should it choose to head in that direction.
Councilmen Bob Sabosik and Bill Borowsky voted to approve the authorization but expressed some concerns over establishing a farmers' market in the Borough.
There’s potential, they worry, that the market could detract from local businesses. Borowsky is the owner of Nature’s Reward, a farm market on Bridge Avenue, a point mentioned by Schroeder, who wondered out loud if Borowsky’s involvement in decisions regarding a farmers' market represented a potential conflict of interest.
Sabosik backed Borowsky and the concerns of local businesses.
“I’d like to just make sure that we have a local business buy-in,” he said. “We have to make sure our businesses aren’t harmed.”
Constantino brought Volunteer Market Manager Kim Deitz to help make the case for a farmers' market in town. Deitz, who organized and has successfully managed a farmers' market in Point Pleasant Beach for the last seven years and recently developed another one in Bay Head, said she’d be willing to offer a presentation to council on the benefits of a farmers' market.
Properly managed, Deitz said a farmers' market could succeed in attracting great vendors and incorporating local business owners. She said she’s stood before skeptical councils before to present her case and that the overwhelming positive potential of farmers' markets tends to win the day.
“The only question that’s come up over the past few years is where to hold it (the farmers' market) this time,” she said of the Point Beach market. “It grows a bit each year.”