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'Intimate' midweek markets promote 'slow food'

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The recent addition of midweek sales by some Clintonville Farmers' Market vendors isn't intended solely to give them another outlet for their produce -- although that's part of it.

"Midseason, July and August, Ohio produce is abundant," market manager Laura Zimmerman said.

But what are being billed as Slow Down Wednesdays aren't just Saturdays repeated four days later.

"It's got a different focus, really, from Saturday, and that's deliberate," Zimmerman said.

The markets, which began July 11 and continue from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Aug. 29, are more oriented toward meal preparation and fostering relationships between local growers and their customers. They are meant to be, Zimmerman said, "more intimate, a slowed-down evening, a relaxing evening market."

Slow Down Wednesdays, held at the same site as the normal Saturday sales at the intersection of North High Street and West Dunedin Road, are the result of a partnership between the Clintonville Farmers Market, Global Gallery and Slow Food Columbus.

"We certainly support so many things that are about good, clean, fair food, and we are pleased to support a midweek market," said Colleen Yuhn, co-founder and leader of Slow Food Columbus. "Really, the biggest thing is supporting local farmers. That's what would be most important to me."

Global Gallery provides music during Slow Down Wednesdays and also sponsors the presence of local food trucks that specialize in food made from local ingredients.

Slow Food Columbus is a local chapter of Slow Food USA, which itself is the American branch of Slow Food International, according to the website for the organization that Yuhn, herself a Clintonville resident, founded. Slow Food International originated in Italy in 1989 to "counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people's dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world," the site states.

Because some people tell market officials they can't attend the Saturday sales, while others have said they would like to restock midweek, a Wednesday addition has been considered for the past four years, Zimmerman said.

"We talked to our producers and we talked to our customers and we decided to give it a go," she said. "At Clintonville Farmers Markets, we do some things very deliberately, and we do some things more spontaneously, and this is something that we've looked at a bit more deliberately," she said. "It came together well because of Global Gallery's presence and also because of the relationship we've developed with Slow Food after our trip to Terra Madre a few years ago."

"What Slow Food brings to the table is that kind of slowing down and really enjoying the time to prepare something, and also it doesn't have to be difficult," Yuhn said. "It just kind of makes people feel comfortable with grabbing a few things and making an easy meal."

Producers participating in Slow Food Wednesdays -- and that includes some new ones such as the OSU Student Farm -- are encouraged to share recipes for preparing their wares, Zimmerman said.

Attendance at Slow Down Wednesdays has been good so far, according to the market manager, although not all vendors who signed up have been able to participate.

That's because, Zimmerman said, what they intended to bring to the midweek market "cooked in the field."

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