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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

At the Country Market

IMG_3407My husband grew up for a number of years in southern New Jersey. Not far away recently in nearby Pennsylvania, he could not resist the urge to travel an hour or two out of the way in order to purchase local, farm-fresh produce. Along I went, laptop serving as my mobile office.

On the way, we passed many a roadside market as he held out for his favorite. Only a few years back, just a handful of these fruit, flower and vegetable stands existed. Whether it’s the economy or what, the number of markets proliferating today was staggering.

“Only a few more miles,” he informed us, as we whizzed past stand after stand.IMG_3406

“These look good,” I remarked, glancing at the fruits and vegetables piled high.

I understood his need to hit the stand he had been patronizing for decades, even though it was not so frequently. Probably with all of the regularity similar to the Olympics popping up every few years, but still it held a nostalgic spot in his heart.

Landmarks began to look familiar— blueberry fields ripe to the hilt, an historic winery, this township and that. It was almost seven o’clock in the evening and Benedetto recalled farm markets being open at night in his youth.

IMG_3411“But who knows now?” he wondered aloud.

Rounding the corner, the sad truth hit us like a ton of bricks. His favorite market was closed. For good. A “For Rent” sign stood in front of the shuttered stand and farm house behind it.

Disappointing. Unbelievable, actually. The market had been there forever. They even had a gift shop next door the last time we visited a couple of years ago close to Thanksgiving when the unique, golden-colored, south Jersey sweet potatoes were coming in.

We at least stopped for restrooms in the small town and I suggested he ask the locals for suggestions. As IMG_3409only he can do, he singled out one lady, explained how we visited the shuttered farm market that… turned out to have been owned by her husband’s aunt-! The two of them exchanged last names, trying to figure out if either one knew the other’s inner circle of family or friends. She gave us several hot tips, naturally none of them in the direction we were going, but we gave it a shot, taking yet a further detour from our trip home.

Each was closed. It was nearing eight o’clock and the sun began its fireball descent, splashes of color streaking across the sky.

Benedetto was giving up and leaving the environs after his search for produce yielded nothing. And then… we somehow happened upon Red Top Farm Market, family-owned and operated since 1926 (business card) or 1932 (FaceBook blurb). Either way, it’s a winner, located on Route 70 (near Route 206) in Southampton, NJ.

IMG_3410Their flowers and plants wooed us from roadside to inside with Red Top’s luscious and lovely fruit and veggies. The corn, the peppers, the eggplant, the tomatoes, the blackberries and of course, the blueberries were hard to resist. So we didn’t-!

There were fruity butters, and honeys and ciders. The Jersey fresh fruit and vegetables were absolutely gorgeous in color and fragrance—we couldn’t wait to get them home.

Definitely worth the detour. Good for the body and soul.

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