It’s all part of Fayette County’s annual farmer’s markets where consumers can stock up on cabbage, cucumbers, kale and other vegetables to brighten their summer palate and table.
Value-added items like canned goods, candles, soaps, preserves and baked pies are also featured at the seven different markets in Fayette, Westmoreland and Greene counties.
Fay-Penn Economic Development Council’s Buy Local Network sponsors six Farmers Markets in the area, five located within Fayette County and one each in Westmoreland and Greene counties.
These markets will begin the weekend after July 4 and run through the end of September and include: Brownsville, Connellsville, Masontown, Ohiopyle, Scottdale, and Uniontown. A new addition to these markets for the 2013 season is the Greensboro Farmers Market, which is run through the Elm Street Program in Greensboro in Greene County, but supported by Fay-Penn and the Buy Local Network.
According to Bob Junk, Fay-Penn local economy manager, there are 10 reasons to support these markets.
The first is simple economics. Business purchasing power remains local: Every dollar that is spent at local businesses generates at least three times more economic benefit than a dollar spent at non-local establishments, he said.
“As family, neighbors, and friends, our local business owners are a huge part of what this region special. They have invested much in our communities and contribute greatly to our tax base,” Junk said.
Farmers markets benefit the environment. “Utilizing local businesses means less travel and air pollution,” Junk said.
“Locally owned businesses occupy buildings, which means there is better use of tax dollars,” Junk added.
Farmers markets provide better customer service. Local businesses hire, train, and promote local employees – hometown employees with that hometown flavor necessary to maintain a personal relationship with their customers, according to Junk.
Local residents are healthier since locally-owned businesses have a higher commitment to the health of the community, especially the physical health of their families, friends and neighbors.
Consumers also have access to healthier foods. “Local farmers produce locally-grown foods, which increases farming profitability, as well as accessibility to locally-produced foods,” Junk said.
Local reinvestment is another benefit of the markets, Junk added. “Businesses that are locally-owned invest personally and financially in the well-being of their neighbors by supporting and participating in community projects, groups and non-profit agencies. They are willing to take risks to revitalize neighborhoods that have fewer services and locally-produced products.”
And, finally, Junk said, “It’s just good business,” to have and support farmers markets.
“Utilizing local businesses is an investment in the future of our community. Locally-owned businesses understand their local consumers, which results in higher levels of customer satisfaction. A satisfied customer, one who feels valued by the business owner, will then become a loyal customer. Everyone wins,” Junk said.
According to Lori Goodwin-Scott, Fay-Penn Sustainable Communities Specialist,
farmers markets are one of the oldest forms of direct marketing by small farmers utilized all over the world, from the mercados in Spain and unique street markets in Asia, to Ancient Greek agoras and Ancient Roman forums. It is only in the last decade or so that farmers markets have become more popular with consumers and, as such, have become a better marketing method for many farmers throughout the United States.
“A farmers market is a place where farmers sell their products directly to consumers, typically at the same location weekly during the peak harvest season. Some farmers markets, however, exist year-round in warmer climates,” Goodwin-Scott said.
“Other vendors can include local entrepreneurs who buy raw ingredients from local producers to create various types of fresh products, such as baked goods, artisan cheeses, canned jams and jellies, wine, etc., as well as vendors who sell prepared food. Some farmers markets deviate from selling traditional food items to selling locally-made art, such as drawings, pictures, wood products, leather products, etc.,” she added.
“Farmers markets, in addition to being a venue for farmers to sell their products and consumers to purchase fresh products, are also a venue for producers and consumers to come together, forge relationships and exchange information. Consumers are able to engage with the farmers and producers and make a connection with their food, having secure knowledge of where the food comes from. Some farmers markets even offer live entertainment or children’s activities, creating a great opportunity for a weekly family outing,” Goodwin-Scott said.
“As an added incentive for our Buy Local Network Community Discount Cardholders, the first 20 customers to present their Buy Local Cards at the farmers market will receive 5 Buy Local Bucks to spend at the market that day. Buy Local Bucks, sponsored by the Buy Local Network, may be used as cash and are accepted by all vendors,” Goodwin-Scott said.
-- Uniontown, at Storey Square on East Main Street from 4 to 7 p.m. July 8 through Sept. 23.
-- Brownsville, Market Street parking lot, from 4 to 7 p.m. July 10 through Sept. 25.
-- Scottdale, Rite Aide parking lot on Broadway, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. July 11 through Sept. 26.
-- Masontown, German Masontown Park, from 4 to 7 p.m. July 12 through Sept. 27.
-- Connellsville, West Crawford Avenue, 8 a.m. to noon, July 6 through Sept. 28.
-- Greensboro, Gazebo Park, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Oct. 12.
-- Ohiopyle, guided raft tour parking lot off Dinner Bell Road, from 2 to 6 p.m., July 6 through Sept. 28.
For more information on farmer’s markets, call Fay-Penn at 724-437-7913.