Nearly 3 dozen vendors to bring fresh tastes to Samuel Street
CHARLES TOWN – As the new season of the Charles Town Market kicks off Saturday morning, organizers are celebrating its robust growth, and also thinking ahead to exciting developments in the works for 2015.
The market’s new logo shows the historic Charles Washington Inn flanked by bushel baskets of fruits and vegetables, a nod to the community’s rich history, its future and the important role farming has played to both, the market’s manager Fiona Harrison explains.
In 2015, renovations at the Charles Washington Inn are expected to be complete, with the first-level Chinese restaurant gone and the entire space available for the public’s use, Harrison said.
When that happens, Charles Town will be home to a year-round farmer’s market, she said.
Shep Ogden of the Agricultural Development Office at Jefferson County Development Authority says the market has no more room to grow on South Samuel Street.
To meet public demand for locally grown fare, the market’s expansion into a larger space and one available even during the cold of winter makes sense, Harrison said.
Todd Coyle, another member of the market committee, agrees that locally grown food will only continue to be a growth industry for our area. “The food at our market just tastes better,” he said. “It’s a lot more nutritious. You know where your food is coming from, and you know the people who grew it.”
The 35 fruit and vegetable growers, meat producers and other vendors signed up for the 2014 market is a huge turnaround from 2011 when the farm market had only six to eight vendors each week.
It was Harrison, Ogden, Coyle and Black Dog Coffee founder Brian Bircher who began an extensive retooling of the market following that disappointing 2011 season.
“One of the strongest things that we’ve tried to do as a committee is to try to develop a sense of community, not only among the vendors, but also to build a strong connection between the city of Charles Town and the market,” Ogden said.
Coyle said the committee members share “a sincere passion” for local food systems and the local economy and that residents have proved hungry for what the market offers. “The community has done an amazing job supporting us and helping us out,” he said.
One important change to the market came in moving vendors across Washington Street.
“It’s a better location,” Harrison said. “It’s a flatter street. There’s more parking for people. It’s shady for more of the day.”
Now the market has become a gathering spot for folks who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to spend time together, Coyle said. “It’s a place to get to know each other, a weekly meeting point for people,” he said.
A rotating series of local musicians provide entertainment every Saturday starting at 10 a.m. and special events such as Dog Day add fun to the summer schedule, organizers say.
A number of vendors sell not just food but an impressive array of locally made art and crafts. Taken altogether, the market delivers a good feeling to those who shop there, Coyle said.
“To have a good, rounded life, you need food, you need art, and you need community. And a farmers market can provide all of that,” he said. “With all the negative stuff that happens in the world, this is a good thing.”
A thriving farm market is also good for business, Harrison notes.
“They allow people to kind of get their feet wet, figure out what their niche is, and figure out how they can price their product,” she said. “It’s good for somebody who has just started a business or somebody who doesn’t really know if they want this to be a hobby or a business.
“Farmers markets are really welcoming for that sort of person.”
Five new vendors will be at the market Saturday when it opens at 8 a.m. and others are set to begin coming later in the season.
A look at the newcomers starting this week:
Green Gate Farm. Heritage bred pork, broiler chickens, eggs and produce. They also offer CSA shares. Learn more at greengatefarmwv.com or call 304-268-1294.
Shades Farm. Fresh vegetables, flowers and herbs. Certified naturally grown. Learn more by finding Shades Farm on Facebook or by calling 304-707-1147.
Chef Eloy’s Kickin’ Salsa. Tortilla chips, fresh guacamole, Argentinian-style empanadas, soups, salsas. Learn more at chefeloy.com or by calling 540-771-0225.
Crooked Run Farm. Pesticide-free, naturally fertilized herbs, vegetables, gourds and bedding plants. Learn more at crookedrunfarm.com or by calling 703-727-3243.
Tangy Produce. Leafy greens and culinary herbs using aquaponics to power the system and feed the plants. The Shepherdstown farm also sells free-range eggs. Learn more at tangyproduce.com or by calling 336-905-5904.
Five other vendors will debut later: Cowbell Kitchen starting April 19. Prepared foods. Rustic and seasonal cakes; buttermilk biscuits with local ham/bacon, eggs and cheese; tortilla breakfast wraps served with either local ham or bacon, local veggies and cheese. Cowbellkitchen.com
Wild Rose Soaps starts April 19. All natural, handcrafted luxurious body products, including soap, lotion, body scrubs, bath bomb cupcakes, herbal bath teas, and bath salts. Mywildrosesoap.com
Creekside Candles starts April 26. Candles in a variety of scent combinations and sizes, hand-crafted with 100 percent American Soy wax. Creeksidecandles.com
Dena Liston Designs starts May 31. Handmade uniquely crafted beaded jewelry and accessories. Denalistondesigns.com
Sustainable Solutions starts July 19. Native trees and shrubs for forest, food, and wildlife. Sustainablesolutionsllc.net
– Bryan Clark contributed to this report