Fairmont Farmers Market

Sudawan Richardson, of Richardson’s Farm, sells fresh produce to customers at the Fairmont Farmers Market at Veterans’ Square on Tuesday.

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont Farmers Market will exhibit its early produce vendors today at Veterans’ Square.

Snap peas, artisan lettuce, green tomatoes, strawberries and more will be displayed at the square from 9-11 a.m. as vendors display locally grown produce and jams.

This is the second market of the season, as vendors began their germination of the Fairmont area Tuesday with the first official market of the summer.

John Murray, an agent with West Virginia University Extension Services, said the farmers market would be open from 4-6 p.m. on Tuesdays and 9-11 a.m. on Saturdays throughout the summer. The location will be at Veterans’ Square tentatively, but a new location is in the works.

Murray said the market has great economical benefits for the city of Fairmont.

“Not only does it help the farmers here, but it also provides people with products sold here that are as cheap or cheaper than going to the grocery store,” he said.

He mentioned opportunities for qualifying senior citizens.

“Later in the summer, they have the Senior’s Farmers Market Nutrition Program,” Murray said. “For seniors that meet income guidelines, they can get vouchers to purchase produce from the farmers market through the senior center.

“Last year, I think there was almost $1,500 worth of those vouchers distributed in Marion County.”

Murray said there is something to be said for local access and local produce.

“This stuff is all picked fresh,” he said. “Many of the vendors from the Tuesday market picked their stuff (that) morning, so you can’t get any fresher than that really unless you are growing it yourself.”

Tuesday’s market saw local vendors who had been coming to the farmers market for various lengths of time.

Sudawan Richardson of Richardson’s Farm near Rachel is a former teacher from Thailand who came to the United States, married her husband and learned to farm.

She has been coming to the farmers market for 15 years.

During the day, Richardson works in the garden and takes care of her husband, but at night, she researches how to grow her garden.

“If I want to grow cucumbers, I say, ‘How do I grow cucumbers?’ on the Internet,” Richardson said.

Richardson said her goal is to teach people about gardening locally.

“I try to teach people to eat healthy food,” she said. “I tell people they can come pick, but nobody comes to pick. Yesterday I picked all day long — 30 gallons of strawberries.”

She said those 30 gallons equaled 7,000 fresh strawberries she had to sell.

Another vendor, Jay Mallow of The Vegetable Garden, said the farmers market brought local produce to Fairmont.

“Fresh local produce,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing. It hasn’t ridden on a truck for a thousand miles.

“You haven’t eaten a strawberry that tastes this good out of the grocery store. They’ve had to take a ride somewhere,” Mallow said. “If you pick it out of the garden and eat it, it’s right clear to the tip — big difference.”

Mallow said he would tell Fairmont residents to “come down and eat some healthy, local food.”

Email Rachel Hawkins at rhawkins@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @rachehawkinstwv.

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