Columbus beekeeper Gary Courtright and his wife realize they are part of a multibillion-dollar industry that continues to grow.

At their Golden Harvest Farm near Slate Run Metro Park, Courtright bottles one of the oldest sweeteners on earth. Honey, he said, contains flavonoids and antioxidants, which help reduce the risk of some cancers and heart disease.

"We take it straight from the hive ... and put it straight into the bottle with all the nutrients and antibodies," Courtright said. "It's not pasteurized."

The Golden Harvest Farm will be among more than two dozen vendors at the Canal Winchester farmers market, which the city bills as one of central Ohio's longest-running markets.

It will open for its 19th season May 27 and will be held weekly, rain or shine, from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays near Stradley Park, 36 S. High St.

The market runs through Sept. 30, with the exception of Labor Day weekend and July 29, when the Canal Winchester Blues & Ribfest is scheduled.

Destination: Canal Winchester operates the market, which features everything from produce, honey, eggs and granola to cupcakes and bread. Everything for sale must be locally grown or Ohio-grown.

"People who come to our market know it hasn't been shipped in from somewhere," said Karen Stiles, executive director of Destination: Canal Winchester. "I made the decision last year to join Ohio Proud. Other than one grandfathered booth, everything has to be 100 percent Ohio-made. We're about local, homemade and homegrown."

Farmers markets have surged in popularity since the U.S. Department of Agriculture began collecting information in 1994. It's estimated more than 3 million consumers shop at farmers markets.

Canal Winchester market vendors are both large and small, from Rhoads Farm Market in Circleville to Back Tie, a Canal Winchester couple who grow produce at their home.

"I really worked last year to grow the market, so this year we've got a lot of new vendors," Stiles said.

To participate, she said, vendors also must follow guidelines set by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Ohio law has two categories of regulation that include baked goods: cottage food regulations and home bakery.

The Courtrights have sold goods at the market for the past five years. In addition to honey, they offer fresh eggs and organic catnip pillows.

"It's really a community-oriented market, Courtright said. "You get people from right around Canal Winchester; the same customers who you get to know.

"It's not like a lot of the bigger markets that can become more like regular retail."

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