Business Increases as Patrons Find Farmers’ Market
By Rick Hiduk
It has taken three weeks, but fresh produce fans and those who seek out nature-based products and craft items have found the Wyalusing Farmers’ Market, which moved this year to the lawn between American Legion Post 534 and Route 6, east of the borough in Wyalusing Township. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Friday, a variety of vendors, who seem to enjoy talking with patrons as much as they like selling to them, bring items to town as diverse as fresh herbs and plum/apricot hybrids to fuzzy, knitted flip-flops and soy candles.
“I think the word is spreading. We had more business in the first half hour today than we had in the previous two weeks,” said Nick Semon, who had already sold out of lettuce by 10 a.m. on July 22. In addition to greens, onions, and herbs, he and his wife, Allie, offered zucchini squash and radishes grown on their one-and-a-half acre garden in Wilmot Township. They also welcomed questions from patrons as to how their produce is grown.
Under the canopy next to them, Paul Pauliny displayed a large variety of stone fruits, including peaches, apricots, and numerous varieties of plums. He has been raising fruits and vegetables on Viall Hill Road in Terry Township for about 10 years. His shirt bore one of his nicknames, “Paul Plum,” but he hopes to be known as “The Tomato King” in the coming weeks as one of the summer’s most anticipated vine fruits comes into season. The handful of tomatoes that were ripe enough for market were already sold.
As perhaps one of the most consistent farmers’ market vendors, Pauliny related that he has carved a niche for himself with what he refers to as “off beat” produce, such as the plumcot, one of his favorite crossbreeds. Pauliny indicated that local residents have warmed up to his personal penchant for stone fruits.
“When I first started selling apricots, I couldn’t give them away,” he recalled. “Now, I can’t keep up.” Apricot season has all but peaked, but Pauliny will continue to bring a few more of his 30 varieties of plums to market each Friday through October.
“Paul’s peaches are always very good,” said farmers’ market patron Ruth Parsons of Sugar Run. She had already purchased some radishes and sage from the Semons and was disappointed to learn that Pauliny had no tomatoes but promised that she would return in subsequent weeks to see if any had come in.
Lura Trossello has participated in the Wyalusing Farmers’ Market for the past four years, exhibiting a line of knitted items under the name New Era Cabin Creations. She hand-spins and dyes her yarn and works on new pieces as customers peruse her merchandise, which includes scarves, shawls, and flip-flops. The latter have been her biggest seller as of late, she noted.
“This is not shawl season,” she laughed as the temperature hovered in the mid 90s. “I can’t talk anyone into a shawl today.” She was undaunted by the heat, however, noting that her sales of her winter ware traditionally pick up in the fall when people begin their Christmas shopping.
Gift items were also in abundance in Sheri McHenry’s Heavenly Scents booth. The Wyalusing resident felt that her soy candles and melts were a perfect fit for the farmers’ market as they are made from natural ingredients. Jewelry, however, has been her most consistent seller as a new market vendor. McHenry is proud to be part of the small but growing market, which she feels is a vital element of a rural community.
“I think it’s a great way to get your produce,” she stated, adding that she generally purchases a few items from her fellow vendors before she goes home each week.
“It is very important to buy locally as often as possible, and it’s much healthier to eat fresh food,” Trossello concurred.
“This stuff was literally picked this morning,” said Nick Semon.
“Which means that it tastes better, I think,” Allie added.
“Keeping money in the local economy is a good thing,” Nick continued. “The money we make here, we spend here.”
“It’s a win-win situation,” Trossello agreed.
Pauliny suggested that the group of vendors was challenged initially by the abrupt change in location for the farmers’ market again this year, noting that it has previously been run in the parking lot next to the chamber of commerce building on Main Street and at the former Welles Mill property.
“What a good farmers’ market needs is plenty of room for people to park and turn around, and we have that here,” said Pauliny, who expressed his gratitude to the American Legion for making the space available to them. “We used to worry about people pulling back out on to the highway, but we don’t have to worry about that here,” he added, noting that the market is clearly visible from Route 6 but requires a turn first onto Bowling Alley Road.
Vendors interested in setting up at the next Wyalusing Farmers’ Market may call Trossello at 570-363-2081.