Farm fresh produce is coming to an outdoor market near you.
Summer is farmers' market season, and the Ohio Valley is ripe with market locations. The number of markets has grown in recent years along with the local food movement. The trend is nationwide.
According to a 2011 U.S. Department of Agriculture study, more than 1,000 new farmers' markets opened across the country in 2011, marking a 17 percent increase.
Bluebird Farm in Cadiz is a mainstay at the Wheeling Farmers' Market.
"The remarkable growth in farmers' markets is an excellent indicator of the staying power of local and regional foods," said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan in a press release about the results. "These outlets provide economic benefits for producers to grow their businesses and also to communities by providing increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables and other foods. In short, they are a critical ingredient in our nation's food system."
Ohio Valley markets not only offer fresh vegetables and fruits, but also locally raised meats such as chicken and pork; local eggs; fresh cut flowers and herbs; spice blends prepared locally; local honey and honey products; homemade soaps; home-baked cakes, cookies and pastries; and even homemade dog biscuits. Some, such as the Bellaire market run by the Ohio Valley Farmers' Markets, have a kids' activity table each week. This year, the Bellaire market received a grant from the J.B. Green Team to sponsor a kids' composting program.
The Wheeling market on National Road has a visiting chef series that will continue this year. During certain weeks, a local chef prepares food on site using ingredients from the vendors. Shoppers are offered samples, cooking tips and recipes.
LOCAL FARMERS' MARKETS
Barnesville - 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays, Barnesville Depot
Bellaire - Starts June 9, 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays, 32nd Street parking lot
Belmont - Starts June 12, 3-6 p.m. Tuesdays, Bel-Morr Market
Cameron - 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays, Hometown Hardware
Follansbee - Starts July 18, 4-6 p.m. every other Wednesday, Town Square
Moundsville - 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays, Jefferson Avenue
Moundsville - 8-11 a.m. Saturdays, Marshall County Fairgrounds
New Martinsville - 8-11 a.m. Saturdays, Main Street
Steubenville - Starts June 13, 4:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, 4000 Sunset Blvd.
Steubenville - Starts June 14, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays, 120 S. Third St.
Weirton - Starts July 9, 3-6:30 p.m. Mondays, Goodwill parking lot, 306-308 Penco Road
Weirton - Starts July 12, 3-6:30 p.m. Thursdays, Weirton Event Center, 3322 East St.
Wellsburg - Starts July 25, 4-6 p.m. every other Wednesday, Unity Apartments
Wheeling - Starts June 2, 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays, St. Michael Parish parking lot
Wheeling - Starts July 11, 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays, Elm Terrace Shopping Center