By Tina Alvey
Area residents craving fresh spring vegetables and other locally raised products are in luck. Two outdoor farmers’ markets are already open for business in Greenbrier County, and another is on the way.
Both of Lewisburg’s competing markets are in full swing, with each boasting upward of 15 vendors, a figure expected to rise as more crops are harvested.
Located in the parking lot between the post office and the United Methodist Church, the vendors of Lewisburg Farmers Market Inc. now have all manner of greens, including spinach and arugula, as well as turnips, radishes and green onions. Baked goods, jams and jellies, eggs, pork, soap and jewelry round out the early-season offerings.
According to Lauren Brenner, a vendor who serves as secretary of the market’s board, beef will soon be added to the array of products available, with chicken joining the protein line Memorial Day weekend.
“We expect to max out at around 20 vendors this season,” Brenner said, adding, “We’re still looking for more vendors, especially fruit and vegetable growers.”
Lewisburg Farmers Market plans a number of special events this season, starting with a Mother’s Day activity this Saturday during which children will be encouraged to pot a plant as a gift for mom.
A monthly raffle is also being conducted at the market, and a honey-themed festival will take center stage sometime in August.
“We’re in the process of getting a website started, which will have a calendar listing all of our special events,” Brenner noted.
Lewisburg Farmers Market is open Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. through mid-November.
Also located in Lewisburg is the Greenbrier Valley Farmers Market, sited on county-owned property at the corner of U.S. 219 (North Jefferson Street) and Arbuckle Lane, next to the courthouse parking lot.
According to Pam West, one of the market’s founders, the vendors at Greenbrier Valley are now selling asparagus and strawberries, as well as garden greens, baked goods, eggs, beef, pork and lamb.
“We have a lot of plants for sale, too,” West enthused. “There are all kinds of herbs, vegetable plants, unique bedding plants — whatever you need.”
In addition to special activities throughout the outdoor market season, Greenbrier Valley’s organizers also plan a major fundraising endeavor in late summer — a “Field to Fork” dinner. That event will be a catered, semi-formal affair with proceeds going toward future promotional efforts and the development of the market’s site.
Greenbrier Valley Farmers Market was the winner of the Greater Greenbrier Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Entrepreneurs’ Cafe competition in March, taking home $1,250 in seed money for the Field to Fork dinner.
The market is now open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., but is still a few weeks away from starting planned Wednesday hours, West said.
With a May 18 opening only a week away, the Alderson Community Market is ready to start its third year at the Greenbrier Interpretive Center lot on Riverside Drive (W.Va. 12), according to Kevin Johnson, one of the market’s managers.
“We expect to have 10 vendors on opening day, but 20 to 25 at various times throughout the season,” Johnson said, noting, “And we will have music every weekend.”
Part of the Alderson Community Food Hub, the market operates from May to October each year and includes free activities for all ages, including a Bike and Skate Day, Market Olympics Day and a scavenger hunt. Children 12 years old and younger are invited to join the Carrot Club and win a prize after every five market visits.
The Alderson Community Market will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays.
Greenbrier County’s fourth farmers’ market, the Organ Cave Community Market, will not be operating this year, according to organizers.
For more information about markets in the Greenbrier Valley region, visit the Greenbrier Valley Local Foods Initiative’s website at www.greenbriervalley.org/local-food-finder/farmers-markets/.
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