Old Man Winter has been especially brutal this year, delivering bitterly cold temperatures, far too many snowfalls and phrases like “polar vortex.”
But spring will be here in a week, bringing with it thoughts of fresh-cut grass, cookouts and home-grown produce.
Beginning May 28, local farmers and artisans will sell their products at Peters Township’s first farmers market. Organized by a group of local women, in partnership with the Rev. Kris McInnes and St. David’s Episcopal Church in Venetia, the market will operate from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Sept. 24 at the church at 905 E. McMurray Road.
McInnes, who came up with the idea to start a farmers market for the community as a ministry of the church, enlisted the help of eight local moms who all share a passion for sustainable farming and buying local, fresh products for their families. Together, the group hopes to encourage relationships between producer and consumer and limit the distance food and goods travel from farm to table.
“St. David’s Episcopal Church is always looking for ways to foster community,” said McInnes. “We are blessed with a lot of land and thought a market would be a great way to use it.”
The committee is looking for a diverse group of vendors, and McInnes said all produce will be locally grown and all goods will be made by local artisans. So far, both Simmons Farm and Kern Farms have signed on as vendors, and another seven applications that have been submitted are awaiting approval by the committee.
Bylaws require that all vendors be within 100 miles of the church. “That throws the net pretty wide, but we are recruiting closer to home,” McInnes said. “We have had a wonderful and committed team working on it (the market) and council was very supportive.”
McInnes added that the committee has been encouraged by the township’s response. “The planning department has been very excited and supportive in shepherding us through the permitting process.”
He said township council had questions, but quickly approved the group’s permit, and a number of calls and letters of support have come in from neighbors as well.
One of the advantages of a farmers market, said McInnes, is that customers have, on average, 10 times as many human interactions compared to shopping at a grocery store. “Peters Township is predominately a commuter community, and there are not many opportunities to meet and engage other residents.
“We place a high value on community and togetherness and this is a great way to offer more of it in our neighborhood,” McInnes said, adding that he is most excited for the opportunity to provide a place for neighbors to gather while also increasing their access to local produce and goods.
“We believe that a strong community is built on strong relationships and our hope is that the Peters Township Farmers Market will be one more way for us to grow together.”