Upper Arlington News

UA Farmers Market offers Ohio's bounty

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From fresh fruits and vegetables to flowers, jams and ice cream, the array of offerings at the Upper Arlington Farmers Market is all-Ohio.

Crowds of women, couples, retirees and children shook off the nearly 90-degree heat June 12 to sample and buy goods offered by vendors. Although their reasons varied, many shoppers said freshness and the chance to support Ohio farmers and artisans were primary motivators.

"I like that it's here," said Lauri Sullivan, an Upper Arlington resident. "We're big vegetable people and we like anything that's fresh. I also like that it's local. I think that's important."

Sullivan, who didn't want to boast but confided that she knows her way around a kitchen, said she visits the market at least once a month.

"I like the quality," she said.

The farmers market is offered every Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. -- rain or shine -- in the parking lot of the Upper Arlington Senior Center, 1945 Ridgeview Road. It is sponsored by the Upper Arlington Parks and Recreation Department. It will extend through Oct. 9.

According to Mac Kinney, Upper Arlington recreation program assistant, the market is an attempt by the city to provide programs and services the local community wants.

That philosophy drove the variety at this year's market, he said.

On most Wednesdays, there are anywhere from 12 to 17 vendors, and in addition to locally grown and produced fruits, vegetables, flowers, ice cream, jams and jellies, there also are stands selling artisan bread and Ohio-bred eggs, poultry and beef.

There's even a stand where visitors can have everything from scissors and kitchen knives to lawn mower blades sharpened while they shop.

"It's an all-Ohio market -- everything that's sold at our market is produced in Ohio," Kinney said. "The farmers you see at the market likely picked their produce that morning.

"We're all about supporting 'local.' We're just trying to bring in local produce and other goods and provide opportunities for our community to have relationships with people who produce these goods."

One regular vendor is Crum Strawberry Farm, located in Marion. Each week, the 200-acre farm sends a worker with bushels of seasonal strawberries.

"For years, we've been coming here and we've done really well," said Bill Wickersham, a Crum Strawberry Farm employee. "It's got good, loyal people who keep coming back."

Wickersham added people should return in July and August when the stand will offer ever-bearing strawberries, which are grown in the summer and through the fall.

Another vendor, Sarah Sullivan, owner of Fruit Strength Farm in Marysville, urged passersby not only to sample her organic jams, jellies and fruit butters, but to learn about their health virtues and the different sweetness levels.

"You eat real fruit and it makes you strong, as opposed to just consuming empty calories in sugar," she said.

Sullivan said this year is her second at the Upper Arlington Farmers Market. She came back, she said, because local shoppers are seeking better foods.

"I think these customers definitely are health-conscious," she said. "It's a blast for me to have a parent come and taste the different sweetness levels and when they have a child that says, 'This sweetness, I like.' "

Workers from Paige's Produce, a Stoutsville farm, said they've been coming to the market for at least four years.

At first, Paige's Produce offered Columbus-area people who participate in Community-Supported Agriculture arrangements to purchase their fruits and vegetables without traveling far from home.

"People buy a share in our crop," said J.D. Howell, a Paige's Produce worker. "We do things the old-fashioned way. Most is hand-picked. The people who grow it are the people who pick it."

Howell noted the farm's blueberries and peaches soon will be offered at the farmers market.

Such offerings likely will draw Linda Stranman of Upper Arlington back. A former artisan baker, she's a farmers market devotee.

The combination of healthy food, dedication to the Weight Watchers program and exercise, she said, has helped her lose 133 pounds.

"I come every week because of the freshness," Stranman said. "I'm a big advocate of vegetables and fruit and I'm dead-set against preservatives and salt.

"I know this is good, and I know (the vendors) work hard. When I get done working out, I come over here and it's just a bonus for me."

Additional information about the Upper Arlington Farmers Market is available under the Parks and Recreation section of the city website, uaoh.net.

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