Duke Farms’ Sunday Farmers Market focuses on agroecology initiative

Duke Farms had 30 vendors come for the first Sunday of its Farmers Market on May 2 in Hillsborough. The farmers market will run every Sunday from May 2-Dec. 5.

The sun came out just in time for the first day of the sixth annual Duke Farms Farmers Market on May 2.

Thirty vendors from the local area set up on the nature preserve for local residents of Somerset County to come and shop for a variety of goods that ranged from fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and bread to honey, wine, soup and even pickles.

Duke Farms Public Engagement Manager William Wilson and his six staff members working at the event were very happy to see many of their regulars and other folks support local businesses at the farmers market.

“We’re happy to get a lot of people out shopping and seeing our regulars,” Wilson said. “They love seeing their local vendors. They’re really excited to get their local meats and cheeses and wines and fresh produce and everything else. People are happy to be outside again.”

The farmers market will run every Sunday, rain or shine, from 10 a.m. through 2 p.m. from May 2 to Dec. 5.

This will be the fourth year that Duke Farms is running its farmers market, and it is one of the biggest farmers markets in the county.

According to Wilson, the farmers market is expected to see around 35-40 local vendors cycle in and out over the course of the eight months the market will be open.

He added that Duke Farms has taken on more vendors after a local farmers market in Bridgwater recently closed.

Duke Farms was able to hold its farmers market last year from June to December during the coronavirus pandemic to give local farms the opportunity to sell products to the public.

“It’s more imperative than ever to support local businesses, especially the farms,” Wilson said. “For Duke Farms, our responsibility is to help as many businesses and farms as possible.”

Like last year during the pandemic, Wilson said the farmers market will adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines and added that people have said to him and his coworkers that they have always felt “safe” being at the farmers market.

Due to COVID-19, the farmers market is the only event accessible to the public at Duke Farms on Sundays to allow more capacity for vendors and people to shop and sell safely.

Wilson said Duke Farms is planning on a separate section for the farmers market when the entire nature preserve is open to the public on Sundays, but that right now the “priority” for Sundays is supporting small businesses and its agroecology division.

“We really want our Sundays to be focused on supporting local businesses and our agroecology initiative here at Duke Farms,” Wilson said.

The farmers market will be open on Mother’s Day.

“We really want to support all these vendors out here,” Wilson said. “It’s hard work. They’re up before us picking produce and setting up. We’re just happy we can provide some support for them. Come out and support your local farmers markets. It’s important.”