GRAFTON—The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) kicked off National Farmer’s Market Week yesterday, as a way to promote local food movement in the United States, and to stress the important role that farmer’s markets have in the food system.
Commissioner of Agriculture, Kent Leonhardt believes that local food is becoming more and more intertwined with U.S. citizen’s daily lives.
“From helping local economies combat the disastrous effects of food deserts, to providing healthier, fresher options to consumers, our farmer’s markets are a vital part of our communities,” he stressed.
The Capitol celebrated the kickoff of the week by hosting a corn roast, in conjunction with Capitol Market at the Capitol, on Thursday.
According to Leonhardt, this was the 12th Annual Corn Roast held at the Capitol. The corn for the roast was provided and cooked by Gritt’s Farm. The roast also played host to Crihfield Farm, who has been selling produce as part of the Capitol Market for the last several weeks. Both producers set up at the roast to sell their fresh fruits and vegetables.
“We were extremely thankful to Brad Gritt and Andy Crihfield for being a part of our Capitol Market. It is agriculture-bases businesses like these that are creating a model we can replicate around the state,” shared Agriculture Business Development Director, Cassey Bowden. “Commissioner Leonhardt has a clear vision for what local food can do for West Virginia, and we hope to work with our partners to implement that foresight.”
At the conclusion of National Farmer’s Market Week, which is Saturday, August 12, the WVDA, in conjunction with the West Virginia Farmer’s Market Association and the West Virginian Food and Farm Coalition, will host a farmer’s market stakeholder meeting on Friday, August 11, at the State Fair of West Virginia.
Topics of conversation will include how the state can expand markets into underserved areas and current challenges facing markets. All market managers are welcome to participate in the discussion.
“Farmer’s markets have never been stronger in West Virginia. Every year we see growth in existing markets and continued interest in starting new markets throughout the Mountain State,” expressed Executive Director for the West Virginia Farmers Market Association, Parween Mascari. “We are excited to have an open dialogue with Commissioner Leonhardt, as we continue to work together to grow the local food movement in our state.”
The citizens here in Taylor County are lucky enough to have not only one, but two local farmer’s markets in the area.
Every Wednesday, from 3:00-6:00 p.m. the Grafton Farmer’s Market, invades downtown Grafton, setting up on the grounds of the International Mother’s Day Shrine. This location is directly across from their previous home in front of the old B&O Station.
The Grafton Farmer’s Market was born in July 2011, as a part of the city’s Turn This Town Around campaign and subsequently All Aboard Grafton.
What started out as a couple of canopies and a handful of tables, has grown and flourished into a very successful economic program for Taylor County.
According to City Manager Kevin Stead, the market has grown so much over the past several years, that the location change was necessary in order to accommodate all of the market’s participating vendors, as well as to allot more parking for shoppers.
In addition, the Grafton Farmer’s Market is also taking action to get local youth involved in produce selection and creating healthier eating habits. The market offers free vouchers for children to use to purchase their own fruits and vegetables.
Since May of this year, residents have been given another farmer’s market shopping day. The Farm and Artisan Market, located behind Hardcore Hunters, operates on Saturdays, from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
According to the market’s founder, Sam McCloy, him and his wife had witnessed success that other counties where having with farmer’s markets, and knew of the success of the Grafton Farmer’s Market, and wanted to provide a weekend market for locals.
The inaugural market took place on May 27, and was a big hit with nine vendors. The market now features anywhere between 15 and 20 vendors.
Both of Grafton’s markets offer only homemade, and handmade products, as well as fresh, locally grown produce. These products can include an array of items to meet the needs of every shopper, such as, honey, goats milk soap, farm fresh eggs, breads, fruits, vegetables, art, baked goods and crafts.
“I think is it is wonderful that we now have two markets. We don’t see it as competition, but rather as another way to help out the community. Having the second market gives residents an extra day to shop, and vendors an extra day to sell. I think its great,” commented All Aboard Grafton Chairman, Tom Hart.
For more information about the Grafton Farmer’s Market, or to become a vendor, please contact All Aboard Grafton. If the weekend works better for you, call Hardcore Hunters, at 304-265-9278, to be a vendor at the Farm and Artisan Market.
“This week, make sure you visit your local farmer’s markets to support a West Virginia farmer,” Leonhardt recommended.