Brooke County farmers’ market kicks off today

Area residents have an opportunity to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables and other locally produced goods with the return of the Brooke County Farmers’ Market.

The markets will begin today from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at a new Follansbee location, the Tractor Supply store, and continue on the same hours each Wednesday on an alternating basis with the Wellsburg site outside Unity Apartments on state Route 2.

Farmers’ markets also will be held monthly at the corner of Ross and Main streets in Bethany, with the first to be held from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today. Other Saturday markets will be held Aug. 16 and Sept. 13, while markets also are planned from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on the last Thursdays in July, August and September.

The Aug. 28 market in Bethany will coincide with a family night that will include homemade ice cream, roasted corn, music, games and other activities.

Markets will be held at the three sites through fall, pending the harvest season.

Ruth Brown, coordinator for the markets, said the three winners of the Kids Garden Club contest sponsored by the Brooke County Farmers’ Market board of directors will be invited to be recognized at the family night.

Earlier this year the group invited children in primary school to try planting their own gardens and to submit photos to be posted on the group’s Facebook page. Officials with Main Street Bank have agreed to provide $50 to each of three children whose gardens are most successful.

Last year Brown, a regular vendor at the markets, and farmers Britney Hervey Farris of Wellsburg and Dale Brant of New Manchester teamed to form the board of directors to recruit more vendors for it.

The three also expanded the locations to include Bethany.

The markets are open to vendors who live within a 50-mile radius of Brooke County’s borders. At least 70 percent of what they sell must be their own produce and the rest must be purchased within a 50-mile radius.

Vendors also may sell crafts, baked goods and jellies, jams and other canned produce, but all must be made by them.

Those interested in participating may call Brown at (304) 374-2164.

Farris and her husband, Charlie, have harvested hundreds of potatoes on the farm established by Hervey’s family in 1770 and passed down from generation to generation. They also are growing sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, green beans and zucchini.

“This year we really expanded growing tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and some other produce for (local restaurant) Spicy Gringos. My husband and I both enjoy carrying on our agriculture heritage and spending time working in the fields together. It is a lot of work but something we are proud of. We hope to continue to grow our farm,” Farris said.