By Maddy Vitale
The Amoroso family had some serious shopping to do Wednesday morning.
They were on a hunt for the best – the freshest – vegetables and fruits around.
The Ocean City family was in the right place.
They joined a crowd of customers at the Ocean City Farmers Market, a little piece of country at the Jersey Shore offering fresh vegetables and fruits from local fields.
The Amorosos displayed their bounty from the morning’s purchases – zucchini, corn and tomatoes.
They weren’t done.
“I want to check out some eggplants,” Jessica Amoroso said. “We love the farmers market.”
Rich Amoroso noted the family started their own garden recently, but he and Jessica admitted, they were novices.
“We are growing mint and strawberries and eggplants,” Rich Amoroso said.
But fruits and veggies weren’t the highlights of the Amoroso girls’ farmers market excursion.
Sophia, 9, Lilyanna, 7, and Aurora, 6, liked guacamole and chips offered by one of the vendors. They also tried some spicy pickles.
The market opened for the season Wednesday. It is on the grounds of the Ocean City Tabernacle at Sixth Street and Asbury Avenue. The market offers a place for patrons to select from a wide variety of produce, including big, ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce mixes, strawberries and blueberries.
Some vendors offered sweets such as pound cakes and sticky buns. Others sold nut butter spreads and jams and others even sold pizza.
The farmers market, in its 19th year, continues to attract people from all over and many vendors come back year after year.
Noelle Willingham and her daughter, Savannah, 16, of Tennessee, and Noelle’s mom, Barbara Laponte, of New York, vacation in Ocean City every summer and come every year to the opening day of the farmers market.
The first thing on their minds: “Corn. Lots of corn,” Laponte said, as she piled corn husks into plastic bags and pulled out her money.
Then they were heading to buy blueberries and zucchini.
Organized by the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, the market features approximately 45 food stands and another 45 vendors who sell homemade crafts.
Noelle Willingham showed off a silver necklace she was wearing. “I bought this here last year. The crafts are also really nice at this farmers market,” she said.
Diane Yellin, of Ocean City, said she is lucky she lives here year round. She visits the market with her two dogs, Pippa and Sabrina, on opening day and every Wednesday after that throughout the summer, she said.
“This is a really good farmers market,” Yellin said, as she checked out some jams at a table by vendor Jalma Farms, of Cape May County.
“The fruit jam has less sugar,” Alma George, co-owner of Jalma Farms, explained to Yellin.
Yellin purchased the jam and some sea salt.
Lisa Debow, of Washington D.C., summers in Ocean City. She missed the market last year but made sure not to miss this one.
One of her favorite stops was to look at vibrant orange sunflowers from Mays Landing-based business Parkerhouse Flowers.
“They are beautiful,” she said of a few she selected. “I will definitely be back to this farmers market.”
The Ocean City Farmers Market is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Wednesday through the beginning of September on the grounds of the Ocean City Tabernacle.