Ventnor City Farmers Market Manager John Dowd has 68 vendors this year.

By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY

VENTNOR – Shoppers did their happy dance and chased away the raindrops that fell during a portion of the Ventnor City Farmers Market. The market opened for the summer season Friday morning in the parking lot at St. James Church on Atlantic and Newport avenues.

Although it rained lightly for a time, the clouds blew past, and the sun eventually dried up the wet pavement and shoppers returned in force.

Carry Jochelson of Margate said she comes to the market as often as she can during the summer season, calling it the “most comprehensive” farmers market in the area.

“I love it and would like to give a shout out to my favorites, Sasser’s and TJ Buckets. I love the teas and all the fresh vegetables,” she said. “There’s a little bit of everything here.”

Although it’s early in the growing season, farmers had lots of fresh greens, starter plants and flowers.

Market Manager John Dowd, who took over as one of the market managers when Andy and Penni Starer retired and moved to Florida, said there are a total of 68 vendors. New this year are the Original Banana Company, My Pita Pocket, Di’s Dogs and Burgers. St. James Church joined the vendors this year, and pop-ups will be, well, popping up throughout the summer season, he said.

“We had to turn away 100 vendors who wanted to get in due to space. All our regulars wanted to come back,” he said.

It rained hard for a short time and put a little damper on the market, but it cleared out and the shoppers returned to purchase Jersey Fresh produce, baked goods, doggie treats and hand-crafted items. People lined up at the food trucks that dotted the parking lot in strategic locations.

“This is the first market of the season and it brought out a lot of people who ducked under tents. St. James was praying for us,” he said.

At the rear of the lot, volunteers dressed in bright orange T-shirts sat in the Old Coots tent dispensing free advice on everything their visitors asked, and pups lined up in front of Good Boys Biscuits and Bones patiently waiting for their pet parents to purchase some treats.

Vendor Stephanie Cadavid of Ventnor said her company, Free Bird Eatery, is back for their second year at the market.

“The first year, we did all plant-based meals to go but this year, we are doing vegan pantry staples,” she said. “We wanted to do things people might not know how to cook.”

Her jarred “Liquid Gold” plant-based sauce is made from vegetables and spices but tastes like cheese.

Cadavid is a registered dietician “so all I do has nutrition in mind,” she said.

Alex and Stephanie Cadavid of Freebird Eatery.

Her husband Alex Cadavid, a captain of the Atlantic City Fire Department, helps with cooking very early in the morning at his cousin Elvis Cadavid’s restaurant, Vagabond, in nearby Atlantic City.

“I have a key and we get in and out very early in the morning,” she said.

Stephanie Cadavid said she held a five-course dinner at Vagabond last year, and can occasionally be found at Cookie Till’s Reeds’ Farm in Egg Harbor Township.

The market will be held 8:30 a.m. to noon Friday mornings until Labor Day weekend.

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Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.