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Public Market to Open In October in Downtown Wheeling

The future site of Grow Ohio Valley’s Public Market, set to open Oct. 19, lies inside the Intermodal Center along Main Street on Thursday.

A public market offering local food from around the Ohio Valley is set to open in downtown Wheeling next month.

The Public Market, run by Wheeling nonprofit Grow Ohio Valley, will open Oct. 19 at the Robert C. Byrd Intermodal Transportation Center with a grand opening celebration, the organization announced Wednesday.

“We’re excited to open our doors to the downtown community to share the local harvest bounty,” said Dean Sparks, store manager for the Public Market. “We’re expecting the Public Market to grow into a community meeting place where the public can learn, share and experience the health and economic benefits of supporting our local farm shed.”

The market will feature locally-grown, fruits and vegetables, eggs and meats from over 40 area vendors, natural and health food items and a deli offering seasonal options for breakfast, lunch and “grab and go” items, according to a press release from Grow OV.

To celebrate, Grow OV will hold a Grand Opening Harvest Festival from noon to 7 p.m. Oct 19. The event, part of the nonprofit’s annual Harvest Festival, will feature live music, local food offerings and other fall activities outside the Public Market on 14th Street.

The festival will coincide with the first home game for the Wheeling Nailers at WesBanco Arena and a 5K race at Heritage Port sponsored by the Wheeling Symphony Auxiliary on the same day.

Grow OV hired Sparks to lead the Public Market initiative. He relocated to Wheeling from rural Vermont and has made a career launching food co-ops and local and natural food retail stores, according to the press release.

The Public Market will strive to offer products that are certified naturally grown, organic, fair trade or equal exchange, humane, minimally packaged and using methods that respect people, animals and the environment, according to GrowOV. It defines “local” as sourced from West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The market will function as a year-round, nonprofit consignment farmer’s market and natural food store. In addition to consignment vendors, it will work with natural foods distributors Frankferd Farms, of Saxonberg, Penn., and KeHE Distributors, LLC.

“While we build toward a consistent supply of year-round products in our region, we anticipate working with regional and national produce vendors during the off-season,” according to the Public Market. “That said, our goal is to source local produce year-round.”

The market will be open to everyone to shop, but it will also offer memberships providing benefits and supporting the store. The nonprofit already raised 90% of its project costs, and the memberships will fund the remainder, including electrical upgrades and basic plumbing, according to Grow OV.

“Community support for the Public Market helps us keep our costs low, so we can give back as much as possible to the local farmers we support,” Grow OV co-founder Danny Swan said. “Your contributions will help us to create a space for community health that is accessible to all people in the Ohio Valley.”

GrowOV is offering Early Bird Memberships until the market opens Oct. 19. Memberships offer several benefits, including quarterly discounts, a rewards system and special ordering. The organization is also seeking lifetime and founding memberships, which involve higher contributions. For more information, those interested can contact publicmarket@growov.org and 304-233-4769.

In March, Grow OV signed a lease with the city of Wheeling, the Ohio Valley Regional Transportation Authority and the Anthony Wayne Oil Corp. to use the Intermodal Center space. The nonprofit pays rent to the city and a tax similar to a business and occupation tax to avoid an unfair advantage over businesses, and most of the market’s sales will return to local farmers.

In addition, the Public Market accepts SNAP, WIC and Senior Vouchers as well as SNAP Stretch, which makes eligible items discounted for SNAP shoppers.

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