The Clintonville Farmers Market opens for a ninth season on Saturday, April 30, but organizers aren't resting on their laurels.

The Clintonville Farmers Market opens for a ninth season on Saturday, April 30, but organizers aren't resting on their laurels.

A record 65 producers will be coming to the market during the course of the six-month 2011 season, 15 new ones joining 50 returnees, according to market manager Laura Zimmerman.

In addition, for the first time this year, holders of the electronic successors to food stamps will be able to make purchases from vendors after obtaining tokens from the market tent. Debit card holders will also be able to get tokens as an added convenience for those who don't bring sufficient cash, Zimmerman said.

"It's a way to get good fresh food into everyone's hands," she added.

Two new programs have been added for the upcoming season, which will run every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon through Oct. 29, with a special Harvest Market on Nov. 19.

The Clintonville Farmers Market is on North High Street between Orchard Lane and West Dunedin Road.

The programs include a new organization, Friends of the Market, and the Farmers Market Kids Garden Club.

"Both programs offer the community ways to participate directly in the market's mission," Zimmerman wrote in a press release.

The latter club will allow children from Clintonville and surrounding communities to help out at Swainway Urban Farm, run by market producer Joseph Swain and located in Clintonville. The young farmers, who will have the chance to sign up to participate in the club on April 30 and again on May 7, will eventually be able to bring their harvest to the market to sell later in the season, Zimmerman said.

The Friends of the Market organization will provide an opportunity for people who care about sustainable agriculture and related issues to come together to share ideas and put on educational programs, the market manager said.

Gaining approval for the Clintonville Farmers Market to become an electronic benefits transfer, or EBT, cards as well as USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program site involved some expense and there were some bureaucratic hoops to jump through, Zimmerman said, but this should work out well for both producers and consumers.

"The effort there is to put EBT dollars that often go to grocery stores into the Farmers hands," Zimmerman said. "For EBT users, the goal is to get them the best possible food for their dollars."

A grant from the Ohio Department of Agriculture helped with implementing the EBT and SNAP card approval.

The 15 new producers for the 2011 season will include sellers of specialty herbs, flowers and maple syrup, among other products, Zimmerman said.

Even some longtime vendors will be coming back to the market with something new, she added. For example, the Sippel Family Farm of Mount Gilead is now home to the KokoBorrego Cheese Co., offering cheese made from goat's milk.

Over the course of the upcoming season, Zimmerman said that market officials will be using lessons learned from three of them attending the four-day Tierra Madre conference put on last fall in Torino, Italy, by Slow Food International.

This will take the form of activities scheduled for virtually each Saturday of the season based on the theme, "2011: What Is Local?"

Opening day, for example, is being touted as Spring Sprout and Bike to Market Day.

Customer parking for the Clintonville Farmers Market is available at Cephas Capital and the Columbus Mennonite Church, both at the intersection of Oakland Park Avenue and North High Street.

"The mission of the Clintonville Farmers Market is to create a venue where market patrons can meet the farmers who grow their food and to educate the patrons about the benefits of locally grown produce and products," Zimmerman wrote in the press release.

More information is available at the nonprofit market's website, wwwclintonvillefarmersmarket.org.