Israel Cronk, executive director of the Montclair Center Business Improvement District, could be on eggshells as he strikes at pose at the new farmers’ market at Crane Park. COURTESY OF MONTCLAIR CENTER BID

By LINDA MOSS
moss@montclairlocal.news

As an interim move until the Fourth Ward gets back its supermarket, Brookdale ShopRite will be joining the vendors at the new farmers’ market at Crane Park, the Montclair Center Business Improvement District said this week.

The Bloomfield supermarket will be selling a variety of goods on both days that the Crane Park Market is open, starting next Thursday, Aug. 10. Brookdale ShopRite will be bringing groceries such as nuts and nut butters, whole- and multi-grain breads, fruit, paper goods, detergent and canned goods.

The farmers’ market also has another vendor joining its roster, The Farm at Glenwood Mountain from Sussex, according to the BID.

Bringing Brookdale ShopRite to Crane Park is part of an effort to help residents, particularly in the Fourth Ward, who lost their main source of food and other goods when the Pathmark at Lackawanna Plaza closed in November 2015, creating what some call a “food desert.” Some older residents and those without cars have had difficulty getting access to groceries since then, and it will be several years before a supermarket is build to replace Pathmark.

“We thought it was a perfect fit,” said Israel Cronk, the BID’s executive director. “The ShopRite is filling the need of the people. A farmers’ market is going to have beautiful, delicious locally sourced organic food. And as far as the market is concerned, there’s going to be nonperishable and paper goods – detergent, soap, things like that – that we can fill the other part of the need. It’s supplemental and experimental, but all done with great intentions and with the community in mind.”

The Crane Park Market has only been open a few weeks and is located at Glenridge and Greenwood avenues, behind Lackawanna Plaza. It is open Thursdays from 3 to 8 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.

Cronk said that he had reached out to Brookdale ShopRite’s nutritionist, Jessica Serdikoff, to find out how his organization “could add another element” to the Crane Market.” Cronk ended up meeting with several of the store’s officials, including its director of operations, Jerry Manley.

“There were some criticisms that the [Crane] market didn’t fill 100 percent of the needs that everybody enjoyed [with the Pathmark],” Cronk said.”What was missing from the intention of transitional food was paper goods, canned good, non-perishables.”

So Cronk said when he talked to ShopRite officials, he asked if they ever did a mobile market. They agreed to do one at Crane Park.

“Brookdale ShopRite is committed to serving the community that has embraced and supported us for generations, and working together to strengthen our neighborhoods for generations to come,” Manley said in a statement.

Brookdale ShopRite, as well as the new ShopRite in Newark, are both owned by third-generation grocer Neil Greenstein. The Bloomfield ShopRite has been a family business for more than 60 years, according to the BID.

Developers Pinnacle Cos. of Montclair and Hampshire Cos of Morristown have said they are talks to have a ShopRite anchor their redevelopment of Lackwanna Plaza, but they have not disclosed which ShopRite operator they are talking to.

The Farm at Glenwood Mountain, 170 acres, will be bringing escarole, green okra, chard, eggplant, fennel and cucumbers, and in coming weeks, tomatoes to Montclair.

“We started this farm so all families could know where their food comes from,” Steve MacLean of the Farm at Glenwood Farms said in a statement.  “Now, we are excited to share our passion for what we do with the residents of Montclair and the surrounding areas.”