Although the cool and rainy spring weather conditions have affected central Ohio farmers, the conditions have been beneficial on the days the Grove City Farmers Market has been held.

"The weather's been cooperative overall this year. We've only had one Saturday where it looked overcast, but the rain held off for the most part," said Marilyn Reiner, events manager for the Grove City Chamber of Commerce, which presents the market.

The event's spring market wrapped up June 23. The summer market is underway and will continue from 8 a.m. to noon each Saturday through Sept. 8 at Broadway and Park Street in the Town Center.

The summer market offers an expanded list of vendors.

"Most weeks we will have around 49 vendors at the summer market," Reiner said. "It isn't until we start getting into summer that a lot of our fruit and vegetable producers start coming to the market with their produce."

In addition to fresh produce, customers can find pasta, spaghetti sauce, gourmet popcorn, bread and other baked goods, jams and jellies, iced tea, coffee, honey, pies, flowers and eggs. There also is a variety of meats, including bison, beef, chicken, lamb and pork, Reiner said.

"All of it is homegrown or homemade," she said.

Rebecca and Doug Kidder bake the mini-bundt cakes they sell on Friday nights in the kitchen of their residence in Orient.

"We just started our business (May's Mints) this year," Rebecca Kidder said. "We both enjoy baking and cooking. It's kind of relaxing for us, a chance to get away from the pressures of our day jobs.

"Doug comes up with a lot of the ideas for our cakes and we both spend time baking them together," she said.

The Kidders offer 13 varieties of bundt cake, but the most popular are lemon blueberry and chocolate-chip brownie, Rebecca Kidder said.

"It's fun being creative and trying to come up with some new recipes and seeing what people like," she said.

While the Kidders are Grove City market rookies, Bruce and Karen Whyte have been participating in the event for more than 15 years.

The Whytes sell homemade pies, fresh blueberries and blackberries, salsas and homemade dog treats through their Buckeye Barn Owls business.

"We love coming to the market," Karen Whyte said. "You see the same people each year and you catch up with how their children are doing and their pets. Sometimes you learn that their pet passed away and that's a little sad."

Karen Whyte said she uses all natural ingredients in making the dog treats.

"I have blueberry yogurt treats and snickerdoodles," she said. "I love dogs, and cats, too, and I like making something that they will enjoy."

Felines especially enjoy the miniature catnip pillows that Karen Whyte makes.

"Cats love playing with the pillows. They'll wrestle with them and lay their heads on them," she said. "They can't resist the catnip."

Bruce Whyte specializes in making salsas, which he calls Galloway Gringos.

"We have 10 different varieties from very mild to very, very spicy that you better be prepared for when you taste it," he said.

Balance is all-important in creating salsa, he said.

"People taste a salsa flavor they like and that's why they expect the next time they buy it," he said. "If you're off just a little bit in the balance of ingredients you use, it impacts the taste.

"If it gets too hot, it kills your taste buds and you can't really savor the flavor," he said.

Orient residents Jenna and Jed Plank sell flowers they grow on land they farm in Grove City.

The couple started their Dream Roots Flower Farm business two years ago.

"We grow specially cut flowers for bouquets," Jenna Plank said. "We're also beginning to get more involved with providing floral arrangements for weddings."

Growing flowers "is really therapeutic for us," she said. "There's just something so rewarding and satisfying seeing something you're growing yourself bloom."

The Planks grow their flowers outdoors.

"We don't use greenhouses, so we're having to deal with all kinds of issues: the weather, rabbits, insects," Jenna Plank said. "This spring was really cold and we were delayed getting some things planted, so we're a few weeks behind where we would expect to be. You just have to deal with the cards that are dealt to you."

One of the Planks' best-selling bouquets features Jenna's favorite flower -- snapdragons.

"My grandmother is an avid gardener and she has probably a couple thousand snapdragon flowers at her home," she said. "I grew up always seeing those at her house, and I just fell in love with that flower and all its colors."

One of the regular features of the farmers market is the chef's challenge in which a local chef demonstrates a recipe using only items purchased at the market.

Jerome Byrd, food service director at Meadow Grove Transitional Care Center in Grove City, created vegetable spaghetti and sausage spaghetti dishes at the July 7 market.

"It's a fun challenge, using the $60 they give you to spend, although I think I only ended up spending about $28," he said. "There's such a great selection of items you can find here at the farmers market. It's not too hard to come up with a great dish."

The vegetable spaghetti he prepared added zucchini, squash, olive oil, cherry tomatoes and garlic to the spaghetti noodles. The sausage spaghetti included fresh sausage and tomatoes crushed into a light-bread sauce with zucchini and squash served as a side dish.

"I really enjoyed the chance to make healthy dishes using delicious, fresh, healthy ingredients," Byrd said.

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