The Hunterdon County Freeholders’ tour of Economic Development projects continued this week when board director Shaun C. Van Doren and deputy director Susan J. Soloway visited with the businesses at the Stockton Market in Stockton, gaining insight into how the county’s farmers markets have adapted to the COVID-19 rules and thrived in 2020.
The site visit was another for the freeholders along the county’s newly established Hunterdon 579 Trail, a new initiative aimed at marketing and promoting the businesses and farms that make up the county’s agribusiness and agritourism sectors.
Van Doren and Soloway, along with Economic Development director Marc Saluk, spoke with the markets’ merchants, learning how the market successfully navigated the start of the COVID-19 pandemic by adding a grocery store, changing their business practices, and emphasizing safety and public health.
“What the Stockton Market, along with our entire agribusiness sector really, has done to stay in business providing fresh food options to Hunterdon residents this year is extremely impressive, and also incredibly helpful for our populations’ health,” Van Doren said.
Van Doren said he was told, “that the market and its merchants worked early in the year with the county health department to develop an approved list of pandemic protocols, which were then shared with other Hunterdon markets.”
Van Doren added that the result is that the market has found and maintained an entirely new customer base. Market merchants meeting with the Freeholders included: Highland Gourmet, BBQ 434, Market Pizza, Maria’s Cusina, Market Coffee, and D Town Dumplings. Each merchant outlined their initial adjustments to the pandemic when they made it their mission to continue to offer a safe, local option for residents to easily find fresh food and supplies.
Soloway, the board’s economic development liaison, said, “We’re extremely fortunate to have a group of merchants so committed to the population, to doing business safely, and to aiding other Hunterdon businesses during a time of crises”
The Freeholders’ economic development sites tour is focusing on business projects along the Hunterdon 579 Trail, in addition to locations with county-funded development projects. Previous stops have included a visit to the site of the future county park along the Delaware River in Milford, along with the tour of Mount Salem Vineyards in Alexandria.
“Agriculture has long been a fundamental part of the Hunterdon economy and will continue to be for a very long time,” said Soloway.”