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Warwood Farmers Market Grows into Community Event for Entire Family

Josh Fluharty, with Foster Fluharty Farm of Smithfield, bags produce for Eda Dragonetti of Wheeling at the Warwood Farmers Market.

What started as only five vendors trying to start a farmers market in Warwood’s Garden Park just over three years ago, has grown into a community event that has attracted more than 30 vendors every Tuesday through the end of September.

In addition to an abundance of home grown produce, Matt Rafa, chairman of the Warwood Farmers Market and a member of Grow Warwood Pride, said each week nearly three dozen vendors gather in the park to sell a variety of homemade items. Vendors sell everything from handcrafted household items or jewelry to homemade baked goods.

“One of the things that we’re really excited about this year is we expanded our artists and crafts line,” Rafa explained. “We have stain glass, we have pottery, and baskets, and soaps and jewelry. Truly there is something here for everyone.”

He said the market provides a way for area residents to support the local economy.

“They are making their own products, they’re not reselling,” he said. “For us, that is really important because we are trying to be a community organization. … That’s where our grass roots started, was from just trying to get out in the community and improve it in every way possible.”

He said Garden Park is an ideal location because it is right in the center of Warwood.

“It’s what we’re passionate about,” he said. “Everything takes place right here in the center of Warwood. It is a beautiful community. It’s a beautiful group of people that live in Warwood. … We’re really all about trying to pool all of our resources together and do something that’s a great outlet for the community.”

In addition, each week market vendors observe a different theme. Rafa said last Tuesday they observed “Dog Day,” where a number of people brought their favorite pup, and this Tuesday they will be observing “First Responders and Home Safety Day,” where area first responders will be on site to help educate the public about home safety issues like fire prevention. He said last year members of the Wheeling Fire Department brought the Fire Safety House and the Ohio County Sheriff’s Department provided a K-9 demonstration.

Children’s games and activities are also provided at the market each week as a way to attract the entire family.

“The big thing with us is we are family oriented, so we’re trying to get the kids to come out, because we know if we can get the kids involved we can start the teaching process at a young age about the importance of volunteering and the importance of giving back to your community,” Rafa said.

The Warwood Farmers Market meets 4 to 7 p.m. every Tuesday through the end of September, with the Toe Tappin’ Tuesday concerts take place in the park during the market on the second and fourth Tuesday each month.

The farmers market is supported by Grow Warwood Pride, a community nonprofit agency. Funds raised from market vendor fees is put back into Grow Warwood Pride’s general fund to support future markets and other community events throughout the year, according to Rafa.

“They use this as one of their fundraising vehicles,” he explained. Whether it’s buying picnic tables for the park, or sponsoring a back-to-school back pack program for local kids, the proceeds are used to benefit the community in many different ways.

Julie Davis, president of Grow Warwood Pride said the market has grown tremendously in just three years.

“Each of the vendors in the Warwood Farmers Market bring high quality items that have manifested from the blood, sweat and tears of people in our community,” she said. “Shopping local is so important and the Warwood Farmers Market is proud to be a top notch supporter of local farmers, artisans, and other businesses.”

For more information about the Warwood Farmers Market, visit the Facebook page @Warwood Farmers Market or e-mail WarwoodFarmersMarket@gmail.com.

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