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Berkeley Springs Farmers Market Opened April 1
BERKELEY SPRINGS, WV - The Berkeley Springs Farmers Market opened on Sunday, April 1. No, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke. The market, now in its 11th year, has expanded its season from April 1 through December 16 instead of the usual May through October. The one exception will be Apple Butter Festival weekend.
Shoppers can already find vegetables, flowers, fruits, prepared foods and pastries, jams, sauces, dairy and egg products, and more.
“We had such a mild winter, everyone got started early,” said president Laura Glasscock of Glasscock’s Produce. She also said many vendors are using low and high tunnels, and greenhouses. That expands the growing season.
Glasscock said, “We already planted sweet corn under little low tunnels. And we started our petunias and fuchsias in December and January. They take 12 to 16 weeks to bloom so we have to start early.”
Vendors on opening day included Glassock’s Produce, Clembrose Organic, Blue Mountain Farm, Master’s Touch, and others. Glasscock said a new catering business, Almost Heaven Catering, started Sunday and sold out by 11:30 a.m.
“Almost Heaven has lunches, salads, sandwiches, and baked goods,” she said.
Clembrose Organic had organic tomato plants, mustard greens, Swiss chard, argula, baby lettuce, and more.
Glasscock said some vendors are certified naturally grown; some are certified organic. There is a different system of certification for each.
Blue Mountain Farm had greens, eggs, and dairy products from Trickling Springs Creamery in Pennsylvania. Owner Dave Elliott says the milk is all natural.
“There are no BST or growth hormones,” said Elliott. “It’s antibiotic free and comes from grass-fed cows.”
Mark Bishop of Master’s Touch already had organic tomato and vegetable plants, and flowers. He said his organic plants were in an organic potting soil and would later have a fish-based fertilizer.
When asked what he thought the year’s trend would be, he quipped, “We’re the trend-setters, so whatever we bring.”
Sylvan Farm had jams and all varieties of cookies. Glasscock’s had cider and apples from last year, sauces, jams, and vegetables.
A new produce vendor is pending. Regular vendors will all be back by May. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Berkeley Springs Farmer’s Market is looking for new honey and meat vendors. And the Thursday market needs vendors. Right now, there are only two on Thursdays. This year’s Thursday market will be from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in July and August.
The market is now under the umbrella organization Morgan County Association for Food and Farm (MCAFF). Elisa Wood, president, said MCAFF’s focus is to support connections between consumers and food produced in the local area. They also want to promote local agriculture and education for local food producers.
The nine-member board formed in 2011 with six farmers.
Wood said, “One of the things we have already done is to provide education to food producers in the surrounding area and states. We sent many farmers market producers and farmers to a conference in Pennsylvania and to one by Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture in Maryland. They learned new things in workshops.”
A 2012 plan is to put together a program to allow farmers market produce to be available to people in the food stamp program. She said there’s work to do and fundraising to be done because it’s done with debit cards, and electronic equipment is necessary. They applied for a grant from the state.
Wood continued, “A lot of people have grown up without having any fresh produce. They eat out of a box. We can do market walks to introduce them to fruits and vegetables available. And we hope to do some cooking demonstrations.”
She said they have ambitious plans but need to bolster their income and roster of volunteers. “We said in our annual planning meeting in January, we want 100 loyal volunteers five years from now.”