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Struggling Farmer's Market May Leave Radburn, Join with Glen Rock

Fair Lawn and Glen Rock are in preliminary discussions about creating a joint farmer's market next year that would be located near the towns' border on Harristown Road.

The Fair Lawn Farmer’s Market may relocate to a more visible location next year after failing to generate adequate returns for its vendors at its current home in the center of Radburn.

Three vendors have abandoned the market in the past two years after failing to turn enough profit, and primary vendor Silver Lake Farm is making just enough to survive, the market’s coordinator, Jane Spindel, reported to council Tuesday.

“I think the word is out that Fair Lawn just doesn’t make the draw for making money,” Spindel said. 

In an effort to reinvigorate the farmer’s market ­— which currently runs Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. from late June through mid-October in the New Song Church parking lot — Spindel said she’d been in discussions with the environmental committee in Glen Rock to jointly host the farmer’s market at the former Walsh Pool on Harristown Road.

The location, right off Route 208, would be more visible to highway drivers and also has access to bathrooms and electricity -- amenities the current farmer’s market setup lacks. 

“Between the two towns there should be a lot of potential,” Spindel said. “We have a large population, people love to come and if it’s in a more visible spot like right off of 208, I think, personally, it’ll draw a lot of people.” 

Even in a more visible location, Mayor Jeanne Baratta expressed concern that the market’s struggles were more a matter of when rather than where it is set up. 

“I think Wednesday is the problem,” Baratta said.

While Spindel acknowledged that a weekend market would be ideal, she said the current farmer is already committed to another market on the weekend and that finding a new farmer who is available on the weekend could prove difficult. 

Spindel said one consideration is bringing in a second farmer to set up in the evening on Wednesdays for the after-work crowd.

“A lot of people are complaining they’re missing it coming home from work,” Spindel said. “If I could get a farmer to overlap, even a small family-operated business that could take it until 6:30, 7 o’clock, it might be a bigger draw.”

Council agreed that with the current set up clearly not working out for the market, it was worth exploring any opportunities to combine the market with Glen Rock next year at Walsh Pool.

With council’s approval, Spindel said she’d report back to her contacts in Glen Rock to gather their thoughts and move the process forward.

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David Fidler September 19, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Seriously- those hours don't work for this day and age. If I want to go to a rationally scheduled Farmer's Market I can go to Ridgewood, hardly a hike. Wednesday when the hard-working people are typically AT WORK never made sense to me.
Jack Donohue September 19, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Have to agree. In the middle of the week, i often tried to get to the local farmers market... only to find that (although it was advertised to be from 11-5 pm) by 4 o'clock, many of the vendors had already packed it in. I love to support fresh market vendors - prefer even MORE to support local small business vendors, but those hours simply were not workable for todays working families. I wish all the vendors well in their efforts to increase their business.
Tommy P September 20, 2012 at 03:02 AM
What business is this of government? If these private business want to compete against those business in town that pay property taxes like ShopRite, we have a few vacancies. The whole idea of the town being involved in assisting outside businesses not paying taxes to compete against long time tax paying companies is sickening.
Chris September 20, 2012 at 10:46 AM
We go to the small Hawthorne farmers market on the WEEKEND. Most successful markets are successful because they're open when people are actually able to get to them. I love fesh produce but I'm at work during the operating hours of the Radburn market. I don't cae where they set up, they won't be as successful during those hours in the MIDDLE of the week. Good luck to them.
* September 20, 2012 at 11:02 AM
In a community where a small number of people vote in local elections , it's not surprising there was little participation .Lethargy is dibilitating across the board
Ezra P. September 20, 2012 at 12:07 PM
I would go if they were open when I was not working... I suspect changing times are doing them in... With more families needing the two person income, the clientele for a mid-week is more limited... If they were open at 8am - before work - I would pick up something. In NYC growing up - I remember a mid-week market - but they were open early enough that my father could stop on the way to work to pick up items.
Radburngal September 20, 2012 at 01:01 PM
Wednesday made sense: Tenefly, Ridgewood, Hawthorne, Ramsey are all on a Sunday, so who can compete? They, especially tenefly have the best produce around. The hours, however, should have been from say 2-7...plenty of light out still!
Deleted because of harassment September 20, 2012 at 01:22 PM
I can't be there to shop because I am at work. Been the issue all along in the idea of a Farmer's market, even when it was on the weekends at the train station. It needs to be open when the shoppers can be there. Otherwise, it's not useful. I've actually sent my kids to walk down there to shop for me because I was at work and wanted fresh produce or bread or pickles. Why isn't it open later - if it moves anywhere, the hours will still be a problem.
BellairBerdan September 20, 2012 at 01:24 PM
I think the idea of a Wednesday market was that the vendors probably already had commitments on the weekends. A mid-week market could expand the vendors profits and fill their calendar while providing a service. Perhaps a mid-week market would be more successful in a town where only one in the family works. Not sure Walsh will give them more passing traffic and exposure without signage on Rt 208, but good luck to them.
Sheena September 20, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Everyone is saying the same thing... hours, not location, is the issue. Open early or stay open late and they should see a big difference.
Jenne September 20, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Fair Lawn government in general-- including Fair Lawn education-- suffers from the delusion that every single family has at least one adult in it that doesn't work during the day, or has infinitely flexible hours.
andy September 21, 2012 at 09:52 PM
I,ve try to go to the market around 4:30pm and was closed,i even tried to go their when its raining around 4pm and was closed again,they advertise open til 5.should extend hours til 7pm see how this works if not try another location and day
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