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Local fresh produce is the key in 2020

Feeling a little bit of cabin fever and maybe dreaming of the warm sunshine and fresh fruits and vegetables?

Most farm markets are not open yet, but Pine Haven Farm Market in Tamaqua can oblige with both of those wants.

The market is mostly open air, so social distancing is attainable. And they ship in an array of fruits and vegetables from Lancaster County Produce, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, bananas, oranges, lemons, limes and strawberries, so they are available right now. The lettuce is grown locally.

“We’ve been doing well. People have said they’d rather come here than the supermarkets,” said store manager Wendall Martin.

The market opened two years ago in the former Dunn’s Farmer Market location on South Tamaqua Drive. Martin said his parents, who own the business, have been running farmers markets in other locations for 10 years.

In addition to the items they ship in, the Martins also sell vegetable plants and flowers that they raise on their farm. Right now, they have cole crop plants such as cabbage and broccoli, but they also have onions. Tomato and cucumber plants will arrive soon.

“I enjoy meeting people,” Martin said about his work. “I enjoy getting a quality product to people who need it.”

In the storage unit area of the market, Pine Haven sells baked goods, jams, jellies, pickles, pickled beets and eggs, snack mixes and sweets from gummies to hard candy.

“We try to have a good selection,” he said.

The market is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. They also provide curbside delivery. Customers can call in and order, pay over the phone, then drive over and pick up their items. Call 570-386-5059 for more information.

Heckman Orchards in Effort is getting ready to open. Gail Heckman said they want to make sure that they provide the safest environment they can for their employees and customers.

“We’d like to open as soon as we can,” she said.

In past years, they have sold bedding plants, hanging baskets, seeds and herbs, and plan to offer these products again.

In the meantime, people looking to get a garden going now are turning to ordering online from seed and plant companies.

Gaynor A. Hannan, executive assistant at W. Atlee Burpee Co. in Warminster, said it’s been “all hands on deck” there.

“Our plant orders are moving,” she said. “Vegetables have taken on a greater interest among consumers.”

The company has a wide range of products including flowers, berries, trees and vegetables. Hannan said they have a greenhouse in Central Pennsylvania that grows the plants.

“This year’s performance has been incredibly strong,” she said. “We were growing at high double digits heading into March; over the last four weeks, we are up a multiple of that.”

Despite the high interest, Burpee “has an ample supply of seed and plants,” she said. The products can be found at www.burpee.com.

Fruits and vegetables aren’t the only thing on most people’s plates.

Edgar and Jennifer Lorah of Walnutport run Lorah’s Pig Roasters and Farm Market. Edgar Lorah said his third-generation farm raises pigs and chickens, and sells beef roasts, steaks, hamburger and ribs, whole chickens and boneless chicken breasts, pork roasts, sausage, bacon and ham. Everything is farm raised. No preservatives. All natural, he said, but not organic.

Lorah’s is only open two days a week: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, because he said he wants the meat to be very fresh.

“Everything is fresh,” he said. “That’s the key.”

The farm market also sells eggs from their chickens, homemade breads, rolls and baked goods from a Mennonite group in Kutztown as well as jellies and pickles. And on the first Saturday of the month, they also offer pork platters or half-a-chicken platters, with sides for $8 and $7 respectively.

“We do simple foods, and our prices are good,” he said.

Lorah said he has seen an uptick in business since the pandemic started. He recommended calling in an order to expedite pickup.

In addition to the farm market, Lorah also caters pig roasts for weddings, graduation parties and other events for 20 years. The market actually only opened 15 years ago.

“Our catering is very large,” he said. “People book us years in advance.”

Some of those booking have had to be canceled recently, he said, but so far they’ve all been rescheduled for later in the summer.

As for the truck and tractor pulls that Lorah hosts at his farm, those are on hold until large gatherings are allowed again. More information about his businesses can be found at www.pigroasting.net.

Pine Haven Farm Market in Tamaqua also carries flowering baskets.
These are some of the spring flowers that Pine Haven Farm Market in Tamaqua carries. They also have vegetable plants, produce and many other food items. PHOTO PROVIDED
In addition to produce and plants, Pine Haven Farm Market in Tamaqua also has candy - lots of candy. PHOTO PROVIDED
ABOVE: Vegetable plants can be seen in the foreground at Pine Haven Farm Market in Tamaqua.
LEFT: Flowers, plants and produce are under the tent, but in the storage building there are shelves of jellies, jams, pickles, candy and planters at Pine Haven Farm Market in Tamaqua. PHOTOS PROVIDED
Pine Haven Farm Market in Tamaqua has a wide variety of produce in its outdoor farm market. They also carry flower and vegetable plants. PHOTO PROVIDED