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Quick Bites: Farmers' Markets
New customers and new growing methods help them stay open year-round
by WKSU's VIVIAN GOODMAN
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter
Vivian Goodman
 
Courtesy of Laura Fong
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In The Region:
Farmers markets are sprouting up all over Northeast Ohio like hardy seedlings in fertile ground.  Outdoors in summer and indoors in winter, the markets are teeming with hungry locavores.
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The Countryside Conservancy’s Farmers Market has been in operation since 2004. And since 2008, it’s been year-round, with a winter market filling the cafeteria as well as the gymnasium of Old Trail School in Bath.

Scores of tables overflow with fresh veggies, and there’s a constant stream of regular customers.

Market Manager Beth Knorr says it’s turned into a social event, a meeting place.

 “There’s this very strong sense of community here. We have little kids ask to have their birthday parties here because they love the farmers’ markets so much, which is really fantastic.”

For Jackie Biebenhower of Broadview Heights, it’s a family affair. She juggles bags stuffed with greens while trying to hold onto two tiny hands.   

 “ Burk here is 3 years old and Sydney is 5 years old. And we love taking advantage of all the free samples. I get to get cheese at the market. And cookies. And the kids even know a lot of the farmers here and they get big hugs when they come and they know that they’re buying and supporting our local family farmers.”  

Beth Knorr says nearby farms are small but the quality of what they bring out of the soil is high.

They can pick them fresh, they can let them ripen on the vine , and so it just tastes so much better when you get it. There’s just no comparison.”

So up here we have a few vendors. This is the cafeteria area so we have some ready to eat items here. So we have somebody who blends tea locally. And we actually have a couple here who farms in Akron. So this is Packorina Farm, this is Carly James and Jeff Bonatti.”   

 “Are people surprised when you say ‘I’m a farmer in Akron’? Do they think well, that’s a city?"

"Yes, Ma’am.  It’s a little different because you’re right in downtown, you can see the Firestone sign. Matter of fact we’re going to be plowing today with horses.  But due to the changing landscape in urban areas, a lot of houses have been torn down so we’re blessed to have a two-acre vacant lot right next to the building where we live, so. And we save the city money on cutting the grass."

"What do you grow?"

"We grow a little bit of everything. All different types of vegetables and melons, herbs, some flowers, and we have some bees that we’re raising. And amaranth. How long have you been doing it? This is our first year. And how’s it going? Excellent. We’re counting our blessings.”

Meanwhile Jan Fillian of Akron is counting on something fresh for tonight’s dinner.  She’s a regular customer of Brecksville’s Spring Hill farm.

Okay so you just bought some cauliflower. Yes. How much cauliflower did you get? Three quarters of a pound. Is that a good value for you? For me it is because I like to get natural organic foods because of the nutrient density of it. That’s my belief. And also it’s fun to know the people because they are people growing the food as opposed to going to the store and picking up a bag of frozen cauliflower.”

The winter market started last month and will continue twice a month through April 28. Knorr says even in cold weather, farmers are pulling fresh vegetables out of the ground.

 “We do have some vendors who have jams and jellies and pickled peppers and so on, so we do have some preserved product. But many of our local growers are extending their season with high tunnels, which are just large hoop houses with either one or two sheets of plastic. So you can get a wide array of fresh produce now even throughout the winter months. So our indoor markets go from November through April. So throughout that whole time, we’ll have people who have things like radishes, salad mix, spinach is a big one, swiss chard, turnips. And then of course you have your storage crops like carrots and parsnips and root crops and cabbages and potatoes and so on. But people are always surprised when they come and see just how much fresh produce there is at the market this time of year.”  

Beth Knorr, manager of the Countryside Conservancy Farmers Markets. Its outdoor market in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Peninsula was the first in a national park when it opened in 2004. The summer market has been in Akron’s Howe  Meadow since 2009. It will re-open in May.

The next time you can shop at the farmers market at Old Trail School will be tomorrow (Feb 4). The following one is set for February 18.


Related Links & Resources
Countryside Conservancy Winter farmers' market schedule

Listener Comments:

It's great to see that farmers' markets are finding reason to stay open through the winter, encouraging farmers to keep growing. But did you know about Local Roots Market in Wooster? Not only does it offer local produce, meats, cheeses, other food items, AND other agricultural products (like local yarns) through the winter -- it's open 6 days a week, year round, and now has a cafe that features the food from the market. AND it's an idea that's taking off: Ashland is starting one of its own, other cities in Ohio are exploring the possibility, and the model is getting national attention. Come and check it out!

www.localrootswooster.com


Posted by: Jennifer (Wooster) on February 3, 2012 9:02AM
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