As the hazy, lazy days of summer slide into the glorious days of fall, there’s a vibrant array of products on sale at Ohio’s local farmers’ markets. From golden corn to crunchy cabbage to the reds, greens and purples of tomatoes, choosy shoppers can purchase fresh vegetables from the growers themselves.
Yet it’s taken a while for those market stalls to fill. The drenching rains this past spring set many of the farmers back; they couldn’t get into their fields and gardens to plant their crops. Those who had greenhouses or “high tunnels” were able to get a head start on their hot peppers, cucumbers and melons but even they were deterred by rainy market days. But finally, their work and patience has paid off for them and their customers.
Farmers’ markets can take different forms and offer a variety of products. Some are even worth a day or overnight trip. In Steubenville, Ohio for example, there are three markets – each a unique experience.
On Wednesdays from 4:30-6:30 pm, the Farmers’ Gateway Market sets up in the parking lot of Eastern Gateway Community College, just off a main road through the city. This market is organized and run by the producers themselves under the auspices of Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District. It is limited to local growers who offer only their own agricultural products (including meat, vegetables & fruits) and homemade food and beverages.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Ohio State University Extension and Master Gardeners offer classes and demonstrations throughout the season. It is a popular stop for those on their way home from work.
Early risers often prefer to go to the Downtown Steubenville Farmers’ Market on Thursdays from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, located in a lot on the corner of South and S. 4th Streets. This market has been operating for over 30 years by the Steubenville Visitor Center and offers a more diverse selection of products.
Vendors are not limited to selling only their homegrown produce, so shoppers will find bananas and pineapples as well as locally grown apples and peaches. Crocheted goods, jewelry, hand-painted slate, flower arrangements and other crafts are available, as well as canned pickles, jams and jellies, pies, and cookies. Several non-profits offer information on their programs and the health department does blood pressure checks.
The newest market is part of a larger event coordinated by the young members of the Harmonium Project that draws hundreds of people from the tri-state area: First Fridays on Fourth. On the first Friday of every month from 6:00-11:00 pm, colorful canopies line Fourth Street for sellers of everything edible such as gourmet cupcakes, fudge, hot dogs, ribs, fresh produce, craft beer and bread, as well as crafters with soap, jewelry, candles, clothing and dog treats! All through the evening there is live entertainment, dancing, carriage rides, games and activities for kids, art on display and contests. Each month has a different theme – 20’s, Irish Fest, 80’s, Halloween – and local shops stay open late, offering specials. It’s like a giant party for one big happy family.
Farmers’ Markets today offer more than produce and can become a travel destination on those golden autumn days. So, pack a bag, check in to a local B&B and shop at a market for a pleasant fall getaway.
For information on the Steubenville area markets and other attractions, see www.visitsteubenville.com.
Fall Farmers’ Markets
Article courtesy of Historic Fort Steuben.