Natural Foods celebrates their 50 year anniversary

Mushroom people
Grace McKenna/THE REVIEW
Newark Natural Foods celebrates 50 years with the Harvest Festival.


Fifty years ago, Newark Natural Foods opened their doors to the public for the first time. In 2000, they began their weekly farmers market, which sells local farm products and from local vendors. Sunday, they celebrated their 50-year anniversary during their annual Harvest Festival.

At the market, products range from homemade beeswax candles to home-grown coffee in organic packaging. The market also features homemade gluten-free granola and local vegetable farms with tomatoes, apples, raspberries and collared greens — everything locally grown within a 45-mile range.

Carey Kidwell, the marketing manager of the market, Natural Foods and Café 67, says she loves her job. With live music, a balloon artist and a bike raffle, the event was a product of many of her arrangements.

“The farmer’s market started up informally 20 years ago, with a few farmers just setting up booths outside Natural Foods and selling their produce,” Kidwell says.

Sunset Park Cookies from Chester County, Pa., is run by Fred Rodriguez and his daughter, Alicia. Rodriguez. After baking for 25 years for his daughter and wife, who eat gluten-free and lactose-intolerant products, they decided to sell their cookies, and have been doing so for the past six years.

“This is my fourth year at the farmer’s market, and there’s nothing better now I’m retired,” Rodriguez says. “Everything is gluten free, vegan, soy free and nut free.”

Grace McKenna/THE REVIEW
Intricate patterns and displays drew the eyes of local residents.

Another vendor at the market was The Mushroom People. Even though this was only their second year at the farmers market, the family-owned mushroom farm – Medinaceli Farms – has been in operation for over four generations.

Liz Schew, who works at Medinaceli Farms, was at the market with a variety of mushrooms and soup mixes, all created, grown and sourced organically and locally.

“A lot of people think mushrooms taste the same, but there is a wide variety of flavors, including a woodsy flavor, umami, mild and sweet,” Schew says.

Beyond these vendors, there were also food trucks and craft shops with candles, soaps and various other goods. Kidwell says that the importance of being economically friendly is a big factor in deciding which stores to allow at the market. An example of this was seen at some of the honey tables that use all of the by products from the bees, instead of just the honey.

Looking to expand with many additional vendors over the next year, Kidwell hopes to bring an atmosphere of inclusion and local representation to both university students and local residents, stating that each come in large amounts to get their grocery shopping done.

“It’s important at all ages to know where you’re food is coming from, and that’s what we do here,” Kidwell says. “They know exactly where and they can talk to the farmer who grows it and they know exactly who’s making their products, and that there pure.”

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