Farmers market on a growth spurt

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There’s nothing quite like a homegrown tomato…or onion…or melon.

Get it all without the work at the Madison County Producers Association’s farmers market, now open for the growing season from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday in the parking lot in front of the License Bureau on Lafayette Street in London.

“Everything sold at the farmers market has to be 100 percent grown in Madison County,” said Diane Furbee, secretary of the Producers Association and famous at the market for her Walla Walla onions and handmade quilts.

One member already has sweet corn to sell. Another has new potatoes and green beans. One woman offers flowers, ready for planting straight into the ground.

“The farmers market is a great way for people to put a face with their food, especially these days when consumers are more concerned about where their food comes from,” Furbee said. “Every farmer here is happy to tell you what, if anything, has gone on the crops and to share recipes for what to do with the produce.”

Furbee describes the farmers market membership as a melting pot of people not necessarily out to make a living but more to share their bounty—and not all of them deal in produce.

“We have crafters, people who work with wood, people who make candy and baked goods… A new member from Plumwood is bringing in large pieces of furniture, like gazebo swings and kitchen cabinets.”

Along with new participants, the market has two new features this year. Drawing on their pool of membership dues, the farmers purchased 1,000 reusable totes which they will give to customers to carry their purchases. The bags are decorated with the Producers Association logo.

“We hope that customers will return each week with their bag for more fresh produce,” Furbee said.

The other new feature is a partnership with the Ohio Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. On July 7 at the Madison County market, shoppers who are 60 or older and meet income criteria will be eligible to receive nine $5 coupons valid for the purchase of fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables at the market between May and October.

Funded by a state grant, the program reimburses sellers who sign up to take the coupons. More coupons may be available in August. For details, call Toni Dodge at 614-437-2863.

“The program isn’t costing the sellers any-thing, and it’s a benefit to the seniors,” said Eric Imerman, Madison County OSU Extension agent and a farmers market organizer.

Each year, the farmers market grows in size, and there’s always room for new members.

“If you have a garden and have excess, you can join for just one week if you want,” Furbee said.

The cost to set up shop for one week is $10. A membership good for the whole season (through late October) is $50. The big day is Saturday, though full membership entitles participants to sell items seven days a week at the designated spot on Lafayette Street.

For more information, stop by the market on any Saturday morning or call the Madison County Extension Office at 740-852-0975.

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