Mamma Parla buys purple spinach from the Chia-Xin Florist and Gardener stall.

When I was a kid, my hometown of West Windsor, NJ was mostly bucolic farmland. Over the years, the vast open spaces were transformed into housing developments and school campuses built to accommodate a population that now numbers over 25,000 residents. During the ’80s and ’90s, in particular, corn and other crops were uprooted to make way for rows of McMansions and other unsightly instruments of conspicuous consumption. But recently, members of the West Windsor community have collaborated to protect much of the remaining farmland and open spaces, preventing their development, and celebrating the town’s agricultural origins.

Late harvest corn, some of the sweetest of the season.

An extension of this movement has been an increased interest in food production and a desire to revitalize the idea of New Jersey as “The Garden State”. Perhaps the best place to see this shift in action is at the West Windsor Community Farmers’ Market, which is held in the train station parking lot every Saturday morning through October. Shoppers encounter both organic and conventionally grown produce, including specialty Asian fruits and vegetables, from farms like Terhune, Stults, Chia-Xin, and others. There is cheese from Cherry Grove Farm, the Village Bakery provides bread, Jersey Jams & Jellies prepares preserves, and the FunniBonz stall features a local entrepreneurial family’s BBQ sauces, marinades, and rubs.

Jim and Jo Barbour of FunniBonz

There are loads of tomatoes I grew up eating, like the plump and meaty beefsteak variety (right), perfect for making sandwiches or eating on its own with a light sprinkle of salt.

There are also heritage varieties like this segmented yellow one that I can’t remember ever seeing when I was growing up. Farmers’ Markets promote biodiversity!

The Chia-Xin Florist and Gardener stall sells produce like jackfruit, sweet potato greens, and durian.

The stall also sells purple spinach, which Mamma Parla sauteed and served as a side dish at Sunday dinner.

One of the most popular stalls is Davidson’s Exotic Mushrooms.

In spite of the late corn and tomato crops, there is no denial that fall is just around the corner. These pumpkins and squash are a sure signal. The frosts are not far off.

In fact, there are just 4 more farmers’ markets in West Windsor this year–October 8, 15, 22, and 29. You can visit the West Windsor Community Farmers’ Market in the Vaughn Drive parking lot of Princeton Junction Train Station, just off Alexander Road. The market is open Saturdays, 9am to 1pm. For more information call (609) 577-5113 or visit