This summer was a time of fun and cheer at the Robbinsville Farmers Market, celebrating local businesses and nonprofits in the community! During the months of July and August, Itiah Angels for Learning (IAFL) joined a variety of vendors in the outreach program to give the community a taste of what they offer. Open to all, the Robbinsville Farmers’ Market featured stands that sold items from home décor, candles, food, and refreshments to fresh local produce. IAFL volunteers were able to spread awareness of our charity and promote our mission to garner new volunteers, donations, and subscribers to its monthly newsletter, the ITIAH Bulletin.
The outreach program could not have been done without the immense effort from our volunteer team. Founder Marie Thadal thanked Alinah Rose, who took the lead role in managing IAFL’s table every week, with the support of Magnolia Brown, Jolia Thadal, and Derek Appiah-Kumi. The table sported flyers, brochures and gifts for visitors. IAFL aims to transform the lives of young students in Haiti through generous donations for tuition, educational materials and other necessities. Visitors had the option to donate to the cause at the table, and beauty products were gifted to those who subscribed to the IAFL newsletter, where individuals can stay up to date with IAFL news and events.
It wasn’t always rainbows and sunshine; there was a Tuesday the weather conditions were too harsh. On July 12, IAFL almost did not make it to the Farmers Market because there was no driver to bring IAFL’s setup to the site. However, after a few phone calls made by Alinah, the team was there to welcome passersby. The team deserves praise for their unwavering determination in the outreach program.
Aside from local vendors, the Farmers Market had diverse activities every week for visitors of all ages to enjoy! For example, July 26 was Touch-A-Truck Day, made possible through a partnership with the Robbinsville Township Police Department, Fire Department, and Department of Public Works, where shoppers could view, touch, and take photos with the vehicles used around town. Another special event was Kids’ Day on August 9, where the Farmers Market had balloon art, a bounce slide, rock painting, and many more activities. To highlight the importance of education in youth, IAFL distributed school supplies as gifts to children. The team also met a new collaborator, Ms. Bancroft, at the event, who has various ideas to share with the team. In the penultimate week of Robbinsville Farmers’ Market, Cousins Maine Lobster served delicious, mouth-watering lobster dishes, and live music from Matt Cook and Lydia Cicio, who work at The ARC of Mercer, transformed the atmosphere. IAFL had a blast tabling thanks to the activities provided by the farmers market and the visitors who stopped by!
This was not IAFL’s first rodeo with tabling at a farmers’ markets. IAFL has a great relationship established with the Trenton Farmers’ Market and manager, Ludovich Andre. The Trenton Farmers’ Market also kindly donated a table to IAFL back in June and the December of 2021 to support the nonprofit. There is no doubt that outreach is an important component to our work, and we are always grateful to those who resonate with our mission.
IAFL is grateful to Hope Neis, of the Division of Recreation and Parks and the coordinator of the Robbinsville Farmers’ Market for the table space to promote our mission to the local community. Robbinsville has a rich history with farming dating back to centuries. The Township’s 2020 Master Plan includes ways for farmers to utilize and preserve agricultural lands and activities. It also establishes an initiative to “acquire lands where the owners of agricultural properties wish to sell; thereby accommodating their needs while protecting against overdevelopment and sprawl.” The Township has a strong relationship with the farming community and continues to provide more opportunities for community engagement, from the youngest of children to their seniors, through the Robbinsville Farmers Market. Supporting local businesses, organizations, and farmers with the outreach program has always been important to Neis. She recognizes the importance of joining together face-to-face as a community, especially during the digital age. “For me, there is no better therapy than watching something grow from one tiny seed,” says Neis. “Taking a step back to remember how it all started is a temporary, but much needed escape from today’s technology filled world.”
Written by: Kat Dinh