Easton Public Market's Highmark Farmstand celebrates grand reopening
EASTON, Pa. — Easton area residents were invited to get a fresh look at Highmark Farmstand’s new décor and promote the renewed commitment of its supporters at the Easton Public Market Thursday.
Partners and politicians came together to celebrate the “grand reopening” of the stand, which emphasizes fresh, quality fruits, vegetables, dairy, eggs, honey, grains, meats and more from local sources, just before noon.
- Easton Public Market's Highmark Farmstand celebrated a grand reopening on Thursday
- The Farmstand got a fresh coat of paint, new signage and other enhancements thanks to support from Highmark
- Politicians and other supporters commended the market's partners for fostering healthy choices and community
Easton Market District Director Megan McBride saluted the efforts of the Greater Easton Development Partnership and Highmark for their roles in establishing and growing the vendor, which has become a hallmark of the market.
“Highmark has been generous supporting us throughout this process for seven years, and they decided it was time for a refresh, so we gave it a nice coat of paint, we did some rebranding, and we’ll be hanging some signage that will be highlighting all of our partner farms and growers and producers in the next couple weeks,” McBride said.
“It’s really important that they get good, fresh food, fruits and vegetables. And I want to thank Highmark – I cannot tell you how glad I am to have you as a partner. You’ve been here from the beginning, and it’s really important. Without our sponsors, this building closes, and if this building closes, it’s a real downside,”Mayor Sal Panto Jr.
Executive Director of the Greater Easton Development Partnership Jared Mast has been a longtime fixture of the space. Since finishing graduate school in 2013, Mast has helped develop the vision for the Easton Public Market, and then put it into action via grants and partnerships.
Even with the fresh coats of paint and new details already introduced, Mast is excited for the future of the market – many of which are coming soon.
“I do think we brought an important new asset to the downtown, and we continue to nurture that as a nonprofit landlord,” Mast said. “We’re looking to continue to push the success of the market forward, especially with the completion of the garage behind the market, and the new pedestrian plaza that’s going in behind the market which we’ll add tables and chairs and a ping pong table, things to kind of make it a fun, livable space.”
Healthy food, happy community
Vice President of Community Affairs for Highmark Blue Shield Kathleen McKenzie said the insurance company was “so fortunate” to be able to contribute to the Farmstand and the market, promoting key elements of a healthy lifestyle.
“In the beginning, in 2016, when they built the Easton Public Market, we were asked to be one of the anchor partners and to sort of work on one anchor,” McKenzie said. “And we said, ‘We want to do a healthy market. Food and nutrition is something we would like to put our name on.’ Fortunately, there was a local vendor that was able to get that together and we decided to underwrite that.”
And the core concept of community building has been instrumental in the success and growth of the market, as one former employer-turned-supplier said.
Emily Stocker, co-owner of Cabbage Throw Farm in Asbury, New Jersey, worked at the market as an assistant manager for a few years before starting up a farm with her partner. Her interest in the field was cultivated by her interactions with farmers and her love of food, which has blossomed into a business that carries on the core concepts of the Easton Public Market and the Highmark Farmstand.
“It’s been huge. Easton is the first place I actually felt like I had a community. The community supported us, just as much as we are supporting them by serving them fresh food,” Stocker said.
Mayor, state representative applaud Highmark
Mayor Sal Panto Jr. applauded the efforts of Highmark, which he said were pivotal to providing access to quality food for the residents of Easton, including those dependent upon EBT.
“It’s really important that they get good, fresh food, fruits and vegetables. And I want to thank Highmark – I cannot tell you how glad I am to have you as a partner. You’ve been here from the beginning, and it’s really important. Without our sponsors, this building closes, and if this building closes, it’s a real downside,” Panto said, noting the downtown area is “everybody’s’ downtown.”
State Representative Robert Freeman described the Easton Public Market as an “outstanding venue for downtown Easton, and the greater Easton community as a whole.”
“Not only do you have a great array of foods and shops, it’s also a place for people to meet,” Freeman said. “It’s a place to gather. It’s become a real connecting point for a lot of folks to maybe meet up on a Friday night, grab a slice of pizza or some barbecue or something, and talk to their neighbors and connect,”
Operations Manager of the Highmark Farmstand Tanya Gehris commended Highmark for their assistance – “Highmark has been attached to the Farmstand since day one,” and “They’ve brought us a wonderful, beautiful upgrade, and there’s more to come even” – and how that support has helped to create an even stronger sense of community in Easton.
“I love this community. I don’t personally live in this town, but I love the community,” Gehris said. “The community is always together, I have regular customers that constantly come in from the community, and it adds to much robust energy to everybody that comes in here. I appreciate everybody, and I’m glad to be here.”