Spring has arrived and the Berea Farmers Market has made its annual migration to its outdoor location at 416 Chestnut across from the Peoples Bank.
With over 20 vendors, you will be sure to find spring time farm food like greens, carrots, pastured meat, eggs and that harbinger of spring: ramps (a wild cousin ofleeks)! The markets’ commitment to a grower-only market will guarantee that the food you purchase is grown by the vendor who sells it. It also means that everycanned, baked or processed food will have farm ingredients sourced directly from the vendor’s fields.
“We have a deep commitment to building a strong local agriculture economy” says market manager, Margie Stelzer. “Our vetting process for farmers is among the most extensive in the state requiring each farmer to submit a farm plan and to agree to an on-site farm visit. This prevents vendors from re-selling produce bought from other sources . When “local” at big grocery chains can mean up to 500 miles away, we want our customers to be assured that local at the Berea Farmers Market means from that farmer’s property .”
A guarantee of local sourcing expands to other market products as well like herb infused natural cleaners, goats’ milk soap, alpaca winter wear and bees wax food wraps. Any market in Berea wouldn’t be complete without an offering of artisanal crafts and the Berea Farmers Market carries an array of juried, hand crafted items like naturally sourced jewelry, handmade journals, nature inspired watercolors and hand felted scarves. “As a farmers market, we look for non-food products that are sustainably created and reflect the fields, farms and forests in the area,” says Stelzer.
Another commitment of the Berea Farmers Market is to make the market more accessible to all income groups. Thanks to grant support from WellCare Health Plans and Community Farm Alliance, they will be expanding their double dollars program so that up to $20 of a customer’s food stamp benefits are doubled by the market. They are also continuing their partnership with the USDA Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) so that all children can receive free lunches each Saturday throughout the summer months. The SFSP also brings a wide array of kid friendly activities to help connect kids to their food sources, the natural world or to the benefits of eating fresh food. They’ll even have blender bicycles where kids can purchase farmers’ food and use pedal power to whip it into a delicious smoothie.
“Our partnership with Grow Appalachia and the SFSP is one of the best things that happened to the market, “says Stelzer. “Kids are fed and entertained while parents shop, relax and visit. It creates a real community gathering space.”
The Berea Farmers Market meets every Saturday from 9 am-1pm. In May, they’ll add Tuesdays and will be open from 3-6pm.