By Andrea Cordle
The Westgate Farmers Market is expanding its season.
The popular westside market is held from 9 a.m. to noon the first and third Saturday of each month from June through October. For its sixth season, the market will expand to host two additional shopping opportunities. The first will be a May Market Preview, which will be held on May 15. To end the season, the market will host a Thanksgiving Market on Nov. 20.
“We want to give shoppers an opportunity to buy local in those months,” said Molly Donavan, Westgate Farmers Market manager.
The vendors people look forward to are returning to the market again this year, said Donavan. The vendors will sell produce, jam, bread, baked goods, eggs, meat, and more. Non-food related items will also be available including home goods, plants, candles, and apparel for humans and their pets. According to Donavan, there will be new vendors this year as well with offerings of honey, handcrafted wood items, and small batch roasted coffee.
“Our main focus is food, but we offer a wide variety,” said Donavan.
The Westgate Farmers Market makes it easier for residents to find fresh fruit and vegetables, especially on the westside. The Hilltop area in particular has been referred to as a food desert, with a lack of grocery store options.
“There are dollar stores around here, but those establishments don’t always provide access to fresh, local food,” said Donavan.
The farmers market accepts both Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants and Children (WIC). According to Donavan, last year, the market saw a 500 percent increase in food assistance programs.
“This tells us that people are using the market,” she said.
In addition to accepting SNAP and WIC, the market offers the Produce Perks program, which provides a $25 match on produce purchases. Donavan said this means any amount spent with SNAP/EBT or P-EBT, up to $25, will be matched dollar-for-dollar.
The Westgate Farmers Market is also looking for volunteers and board members. The group needs volunteers to help set up before each market and tear down after the event.
Donavan said the market operates under a volunteer board of directors and they are looking for new members to better reflect the social, economic, and cultural diversity of the Hilltop. Board members typically serve a three-year term.
Those interested in volunteering or becoming a board member, can email email@example.com.
The farmers market will again operate under COVID-19 safety protocols set forth by Columbus Public Health. Masks, or facial coverings, will be required and the tents will be spaced out to allow for sufficient social distancing. Hand sanitizer will be provided, and no samples will be given out.
The Westgate Farmers Market is located at the West Gate Masonic Lodge, 2925 West Broad St. For more information, visit www.westgatefarmersmarket.com.