Visitors to this year's Bexley Farmers' Market can expect to see a few new features in addition to some vendors who have participated since the market began in 2011.
The 2014 market kicked off Thursday, May 15, and continues from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursdays through October at 2111 E. Main St., at the intersection of Main and Parkview Avenue.
Much of the growth in popularity that farmer's markets have seen in recent years can be attributed to how they serve as both a marketplace and a community gathering place, said resident Amy Bodiker, who helped found the Bexley Farmers' Market.
"A market has the advantage of being a community event. You see friends and family. The vendors themselves become friends," she said. "You get in the pattern of seeing familiar faces. It's akin to a town square."
The Bexley Farmers' Market features 20 vendors that offer a variety goods, from organic produce provided by Hirsch Farm and Rhoads Farm to all-natural soaps by Spiral Touch. All of the vendors are based in Ohio, giving patrons an opportunity to ask questions about how the food was grown and what ingredients are used in products.
"I like shopping at a farmer's market because I know my dollars are going directly to the grower," Bodiker said. "I like establishing relationships with them."
One of the new features of this year's market is a program called "Try It Thursdays." Presented along with the Bexley Health and Wellness Committee, the program is a spinoff of "Try It Tuesdays," in which Bexley City Schools students have been able to try new foods and find out how to prepare them.
Visitors to the Bexley Farmers' Market will be offered the same option, with the next two sessions scheduled June 12 and July 10.
The farmer's market also features live music and programming by local organizations such as the Bexley Public Library. This year, food trucks will be on-site each Thursday.
"We like to offer ready-to-eat foods as well as fresh ingredients," Bodiker said.