By RONDA GREGORY
News & Journal Staff Writer
The Clarksburg Farmers Market is celebrating National Farmers Market Week, which runs from Sunday, Aug. 2 to Saturday, Aug. 8, with some special fun and excitement at its venue by Tractor Supply Company at the Eastpointe Shopping Center on Emily Drive in Clarksburg during its regular hours of operation on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The celebration includes all of the popular Market goods – from eggs to soaps to honey – along with some interesting activities and opportunities to win some great prizes.
One feature will be agricultural education classes for children. At one of the Kids Classes, children will be making bugs out of plastic Easter eggs, pipe cleaners, flashing lights and other materials to learn about the necessity of pollination for produce production.
“This activity will teach the children that bugs are good for farming,” said Deaonna Crowe, Clarksburg Farmers Market board member. “Without bugs, bats, butterflies and bees, we couldn’t have our fruits and vegetables, because they’re some of the creatures who do the pollinating.”
In an earlier class for the celebration week, children learned from “Sammy Soil” what is needed to successfully grow plants, Crowe reported. And they received coloring books and other items to help them remember what they’d learned.
Adults can have fun too at a cooking demonstration taught by Steve Coleman of Sweet Hollow Farm. The class highlights a perfect chicken recipe. Crowe wouldn’t divulge the secret recipe, but did say folks would be delighted with the results. “It’s a very delicious, slow-cooked dish that is healthy, which uses products from our Farmers Market,” she said.
The celebration also will feature a raffle for a handmade birdhouse and a basket of Farmers Market treasures.
Crowe stated she’s excited about the variety of the offerings of the 23 vendors that will have excellent produce, craft items and food stuffs for sale.
“We’ll have some great pastries and other baked goods,” Crowe exclaimed. “There’ll be lots of produce out there -everything you can think of. And many wonderful craft items.”
In addition to the actual plethora of Market goods, Crowe said that it’s an opportunity for all ages to participate, to learn, grow and get to know one another.
Crowe said she is especially fond of witnessing young people getting involved in the Market in an entrepreneurial way. A 9-year-old girl makes earrings, bracelets and other jewelry by hand and brings it to market to sell.
“It was great to see a young person wanting to do something … to promote business,” Crowe added.
Crowe said she and the vendors welcome people to come out Saturday for wonderful food, fun and friendship, but also to support their area farmers.
Referring to the natural calamities that have hurt farming production in other parts of the country, Crowe emphasized the need to keep neighborhood regional farmers in business.
“Farming is a vital part of the food chain,” she explained. “With the recent fires and flooding throughout the country, people are going to be more dependent on and need to utilize local farmers more.”
Jen Cheek, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Coalition, agrees. “Farmers markets play a vital role in forming healthy, local food systems,” she stated. “By providing the opportunity for farmers to connect directly with consumers, markets serve as education centers. Vendors are teaching customers about agriculture, sharing recipes, and exposing them to new foods. Markets are making people and communities stronger and healthier.”
Farmers markets are more than just an outlet for fresh produce and friendly farmers. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics, these grassroots venues have increased in number by more than 60 percent since 2009 to nearly 8,500 today. These markets preserve farmland, stimulate local economies, increase access to fresh nutritious food, improve community health, and promote sustainability. For example, growers selling locally create 13 full-time farm operator jobs per $1 million in revenue earned while those that do not sell locally only create three. The Clarksburg Farmers Market, launched in 2007, is one of 59 farmers markets in West Virginia.
This autumn, the Market will host the Harvest Festival Saturday, Oct. 3. “It’s going to be fun,” Crowe reported. “We’ll be featuring a new event – an Apple Pie Bake-off.”
For more information about the Clarksburg Farmers Market, call (304) 669-3514.