With summer just around the corner, it is time to think about supporting our local Trumbull County Farmers Markets. When you buy produce or other items such as honey, grass-fed meats, jams and jellies, or baked goods you are keeping your food dollars within the county and helping local producers maintain or expand their businesses.
When you buy from a local producer you can ask him or her if the produce was grown organically, or if not, what chemicals they might have used. You cannot do that in a grocery store.
More and more people believe in controlling what their families are eating. Shopping at a Farmers Market helps them do that.
Consumers also pay equal or less than what they would pay at their local supermarket for fresher produce. Trumbull County residents are fortunate to have three choices for Farmers Markets and a choice for a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, program.
The Cortland Farmers Market will open its 2013 season on July 11 and run through September. Market hours are 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. each Thursday in the parking lot of the Cortland Roller Arena.
Betty Kerner spoke to me about this season's market.
''Our market has grown in the past four years. We now have repeat customers as well as new ones. This, our fifth year, we will be offering locally made and prepared pepper jelly, honey, homemade lotions and soaps and fresh, locally grown herbs. We also have three Amish produce vendors with fresh vegetables from their gardens.''
This market was the brainchild of the Four Seasons Gardening Club of Cortland that made it its mission to bring fresh produce and the other items listed above to the citizens of Cortland and beyond.
The Howland Farmers Market has been in operation for seven years and according to Kimberly Mascarella, its director, ''it is pretty much running like a well-oiled machine.'' This market gets underway July 6, with hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and meets every Saturday thereafter until early October. It is held in the Richard Orwig Park on East Market Street in Howland adjacent to Howland High School.
During the season they are likely to have flowers, herbs, baked goods, fresh vegetables, dog treats, grass-fed meats and much more. This market will have a limited session on June 15 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Trumbull County residents have a third choice for fresh produce in a farmers market atmosphere at the Trumbull Flea Market, 428 Main St., SW in downtown Warren. This market is actually open all year, Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. There, you are likely to find a full array of fresh vegetables and fruit as well as flea market items.
A unique option for purchasing fresh produce is called Grow Youngstown and offers delivery of a box of produce for 18 weeks, usually a half bushel for singles, a full bushel for families, featuring whatever is currently ready in the garden. Grow Youngstown has deliveries to Warren on Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. through the Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership at 170 N. Park Avenue.
Grow Youngstown is a CSA or community supported agriculture program. CSAs nationwide generally adhere to organic growing practices. Families often find their children enjoy vegetables better if they know they come from their local farm. Families can visit the farm yearly. This produce, like that of farmers markets, provides extremely fresh food, which has traveled a short distance. This means all of nutrients and flavors remain intact.
So consider supporting our local farmers and producers. Take time to wander the stalls at Cortland, Howland or the Trumbull Flea Market. Visit with the growers and ask about their products or, if you prefer, you can pick up your box of veggies weekly. These venues assure that you will have wholesome, fresh produce all summer long.
O'Connor is a Brookfield resident. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org