Gardens grew in 2015

By RAYMOND L. SMITH

Tribune Chronicle

WARREN – Three area farmers markets experienced significant growth last summer and leaders of each expect even greater expansion in 2016 .

Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership’s Warren Farmers Market more than doubled the number of vendors from an average of four to five in 2014 to 13 in 2015.

The four-year-old market has grown from being a once-a-month event that began in association with a farmers market at St. Joseph Warren Hospital to an independent market on Courthouse Square that will run 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Tuesday June 7 through Oct. 4.

Last summer, it grossed $24,162 in total vendor sales. TNP did not have total vendor sales for 2014. It had $5,064 worth of sales through the Mercy Health Fruit and Vegetable Prescription voucher program and $3,742 in Snap/EBT sales, according to TNP Executive Director Matt Martin.

Howland’s farmers market, which began in 20006, is the county’s largest. It averages between 25 and 30 vendors per week. During the summer, it is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays from June through October. It is located in the Richard E. Orwig Park on East Market Street in front of Howland High School.

This winter, Howland’s farmers market will be open 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every third Saturday of the month at the Children’s Rehabilitation Center, 885 Howland-Wilson Road.

Howland’s farmers market is sponsored by the township and is funded through vendor fees and grants. A more established program, Kim Mascarella said Howland’s farmers market had about $120,000 in vendor sales during 2015.

“We have been attempting to supply best in agriculture of locally organic grown fruits, vegetables, eggs and meats,” she said.

Using a two-year U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, Howland recently hired Cynthia Beckes-O’Connor to be a part-time farmers market coordinator.

“We will be integrating more events this summer, such as cooking and educational demonstrations,” Mascarella said.

Cortland has a smaller farmers market that has been operating for approximately five years. It originally was based at the city’s roller rink, but two years ago it moved to All Saints Community Church, 4530 state Route 46, when its original sponsor decided to discontinue it.

Chuck Mauric, a trustee at All Saints Community Church, said a parishioner who was involved with the original farmers market asked in 2014 if the church would allow it to continue on its property.

Cortland’s market was originally created by the Four Seasons Garden Club in June 2009.

“We averaged between five to 10 vendors a week at our market last year,” Mauric said. “We have farmers from Trumbull, Geauga and Ashtabula counties who sold their products as well as residents who sold homemade jellies, soaps and baked goods.”

Last year, the market operated 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., on Thursdays. It has not been determined when its market will open in 2016.

“Having a farmers market helps local farmers and entrepreneurs,” he said. “It also has been a good fundraiser for the church.”

Using a two-year USDA Agricultural Marketing Services’ Farmers Market Promotional Program grant, TNP in Warren last summer put up billboards, videos on the internet and other marketing tools to promote Warren’s market to the general public and to attract new vendors.

Sheila Calko, grow program manager with TNP, said the organization used a portion of a $10,000 grant from Trumbull Memorial Health Foundation to provide matching dollars for residents using SNAP family direction cards to purchase fresh vegetables and fruits at the market.

“They can get up to $10 worth of extra food using the card,” she said.

“We also are trying to make the days the market is open an event by having music, free yoga, cooking demonstrations and other events,” Calko said.

Live music was provided in the Courthouse Square gazebo by the Fine Arts Council of Trumbull County last July.

“We are significantly increasing our presence in 2016 by providing live music during every farmers market,” Adam Gregory, executive director of the Fine Arts Council, said. “We also will be attaching local artists to the market, so they will have an opportunity to display their works and sell their creations.”

“We will have 10 artists at each market Tuesday,” he said. “It is part of our goal to provide more opportunities for artists to display and sell their works. It will become a farmers and artist market.”

Martin said the development of Warren’s farmers market is part of the organizations’ effort to improve the quality of life in the city by reducing food insecurity and improving access to locally grown food.

rsmith@tribtoday.com