Containers and boxes that were neatly arranged on a table held a succulent bounty: Potatoes, tomatoes, onions, string beans, eggplant, peaches, blueberries and much, much more.
"It's all very fresh. It was picked yesterday," explained Elaine Monteleone, whose husband owns Dave Monteleone Farms in Vineland.
The Monteleones were selling the fruits and vegetables Saturday afternoon out of a farmers market, drawing eager customers who were looking for fresh food at bargain prices.
This farmers market is somewhat unusual, though.
Although farmers markets are a common summer treat for motorists venturing out on the rural roads of South Jersey, a little bit of country also pops up every July in the middle of Atlantic City, not far from the huge casinos and bustling Boardwalk.
The Monteleones and other farmers set up tents every Thursday and Saturday in a park at the corner of North Carolina and Atlantic avenues to offer a true taste of the Garden State.
It may be a relatively small operation, but the market has a big following among local residents. It also attracts the occasional tourist.
"If they're people from New York, they go nuts seeing prices like these," said Michael Moffa, another farmer who sells his produce in Atlantic City. "They want to load up the BMW. They want to take it all home."
Moffa, owner of One Flew Over the Hedgerow Farm in Williamstown, Gloucester County, had sold out of blueberries and eggplant by early Saturday afternoon.
"I sold three cases of blueberries today in just three hours. Even ShopRite can't do that," Moffa said.
One customer, Mike Brown, had loaded up three plastic bags with corn, grapes, lemons and plums. He had hoped to buy some watermelon, too, but it was sold out.
"I would recommend that people come here early," Brown said. "They usually sell out fast."
Brown noted that he usually comes to the farmers market every weekend. The trip is convenient - just a short walk from his home at Arctic and Tennessee avenues.
The convenient location and cheap prices are what attract Matthew Lewis to the farmers market. Lewis lives just two blocks away, on Arctic Avenue. On Saturday, Lewis was joking around with Moffa about the low prices.
"They're reasonable, I think," Lewis said, breaking out in laughter with Moffa.
At Moffa's stand, for instance, a basket of cucumbers was just $1. Five pounds of Jersey tomatoes went for $3. The Monteleones were selling onions at $1.50 a bag. Carrots were going for $1. Three ears of Jersey corn were priced at $1.25.
Without the farmers market, Lewis said he would have to make a trip to a downtown supermarket or possibly go to a grocery store outside Atlantic City to buy his fruits and vegetables.
This marks the 13th year for the Atlantic City farmers market. The sponsor is the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, a state agency that uses revenue from the Atlantic City casino industry for new housing, economic development and community projects. The authority says the farmers market underscores its commitment to provide residents and tourists alike with fresh, New Jersey-grown food.
The market reopened this month for the summer. Moffa and the Monteleones said they expect to be at the market every Thursday and Saturday through the end of September, weather permitting.
"We're looking for more farmers here," Moffa said of efforts to expand the operation to meet local demand.
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