Slow Start for Farmers’ Markets Give Way to Summer Bounty – Beth Knorr

The 2011 Countryside Farmers’ Markets, while off to a somewhat rocky start, are in full swing now. The farmers throughout Ohio had one of the roughest springs in memorable history.  Rain and cool weather that continued through May prohibited growers from getting into their fields to plant. Many are still playing catch-up, and most consider themselves about a month behind. Several farmers noted that even those items they did manage to plant between rain drops were slow to grow. All this created a noticeable decline in the amount of fresh produce for the first month and a half of the summer market season. Finally now as the summer crops are beginning to roll in are we seeing fuller tables at both of our farmers’ markets.

Noticeable exceptions to the empty-table syndrome were those vendors with high tunnels on their farms. The high tunnels alleviated weather-related risk for several of our growers, enabling them to have bountiful market stands even through the severe weather of the spring. To show more growers the benefits of these low-cost structures, Countryside Conservancy is partnering with Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association (OEFFA) to provide a workshop this fall that will share techniques with specialty crop growers interested in adding or better utilizing high tunnels on their farm, as well as provide information on advanced techniques
for the established grower.

We are happy to be at Howe Meadow again this season, and also to be in a new, urban setting for our weeknight market at Highland Square. Our Saturday market is every Saturday through October 29th from 9-12, and our Highland Square market is held on Wednesday evenings from 4-7pm through September 28th.

The farmers’ markets have had several new happenings in 2011, including our Waste Not program, which Sage discusses a bit more below, as well as our first ever Pie Contest and Apron Fashion Show. The pie contest was a huge hit, and we can’t wait until next summer to see what market customers will cook up for us to try. Other fun special events scheduled at the market include our Annual Tomato Tasting and Salsa Smackdown featuring the chefs from The Greenhouse Tavern; we’ll also be hosting a Taiko concert at the market on September 24; and finally, our annual Halloween Celebration (complete with caramel apples for kiddos wearing costumes) will take place on our last out-door market day on October 29th.

We hope you’ll come see what’s growing, and enjoy the happenings at Countryside Farmers’ Markets!

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