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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Our city might be small, but it has strong roots when it comes to promoting music, arts, and culture.
New Brunswick is well-known for its crowded basement shows, campus and community music festivals, local theaters and arts education programs, as well as a few smaller music venues that made and continue to make history.
Needless to say, there is a strong communal vibe amongst New Brunswick’s night spot owners and local musicians and their fans. Bands and event organizers, such as the New Brunswick Jazz Project, promote regular shows in and around town.
For years, Iguana Music & Sound has partnered with the city’s only soup kitchen and a leading social services organization, Elijah’s Promise, to raise awareness for their culinary school, but also its most recent offshoot: Better World Market.
Located near Suydam Farms on Route 27, the Better World Market is definitely worth the short trip into Franklin Township.
It is located in front of Suydam Farms: the main supplier of Better World’s fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy products.
Suydam and other local farms supply a wide array of fresh seasonal produce for the store on consignment. Leftovers are then donated to back to Elijah’s Promise to support its soup kitchen and culinary programs.
Since opening in August 2014, Better World Market is flourishing, with much thanks to community members like Michael Steinbruck of Iguana Music.
As an organization, Elijah’s Promise is supported by its partnerships, both internally and externally. Products and culinary creations in the store are all NJ based, and as unique as the artists, farmers, cooks and culinary students who make them.
The staff at Better World are knowledgeable and passionate, but shopping here is also a unique experience.
Aside from fresh produce, it carries a great selection of locally made food, including pastas, mixes, canned soups and condiments, as well as molé from Corazón Kitchen, exotic spice blends, and homemade items like organic black garlic cloves.
The Market is incredibly eclectic. Thoughout its shelves and displays you’ll find all sorts of handmade pieces: beautiful driftwood serving trays, Indian jewelry, hand blown glass, and greeting cards to name a few.
There is also a small but promising gallery in the back featuring the work by local photographers.
Jim Zullo, the Executive Director of Elijah’s Promise, describes the market as having a three fold community-based vision: high quality, locally made products that are entrepreneurial in spirit and focused on eliminating hunger.
One might argue that expansions like the market, as well the soup kitchen’s other offshoots: Promise Culinary School and Promise Catering, are great examples of this.
The community connections and support is really the heart of it’s struxture and mission, which are some of the many things that make Elijah’s Promise such a successful local charity.
Currently, Iguana Music & Sound is holding regular monthly coffeehouse events that are sponsored by New Brunswick Cultural Center. Each month local musicians of all ages perform there.
There is also their annual fundraiser at Tumulty’s Pub at 361 George Street on January 24, featuring a set of Irish punk by Lesser Séamus, Crash Gordon & Debra Dynamite, Jonathan Andrew, and Tom Murphy.
The suggested donation for the event is $10-$20. Anyone interested can contact Iguana Music event coordinator Mike Doktorski at [email protected] for more information.
Laura was born in New Brunswick in 1980. She studied and earned degrees at Rutgers and Harvard, and worked on youth and community development programs She was an was an active member of the local community and covered events for New Brunswick Today. She passed away in 2017.