A Neighborhood Peach Pie Contest

This Sunday, the Riverview Farmers Market will host its (now fifth) annual Perfect Peach Pie Contest at the Riverview-Fisk Park in the Heights neighborhood of Jersey City. Any reader of this blog will recognize that I’m a proponent of localism, and it doesn’t get more local than a neighborhood baking contest. Unsurprisingly, I’m also a supporter and booster of farmers markets. Lastly, I live in the Heights.

Pie contests and all cooking contests are simple, wholesome social gatherings and entertainments. They evoke images of small town America and traditional, tight communities with strong family, civic, religious, and social ties. In cities, such events occur at the neighborhood or even at the block level and may include a more diverse cast of characters. Whether set in a village green or an urban park, a pie contest allows participants and onlookers to feel that they indeed belong to a pleasant, inviting, and vibrant community, if only for an afternoon.

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(Courtesy of Riverview Farmers Market)

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Farmers Market Season

Last week, our neighborhood farmers market opened for the year. Braving the unseasonably wet and cold weather, my wife and I visited the market. We were excited to stock our larder with local produce and food, catch up with our favorite vendors, and see a few friends. Between May and November, we plan all our meals around what is available at the market and what we grow in our own garden. Over the last several years, the market has become the focal point of our civic and social lives.

Farmers markets can be found in neighborhoods throughout most American cities. Even small towns host farmers markets. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), over 8,200 farmers markets operated across the United States in 2014, doubling the total from 2004.

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