Safety at forefront as Gahanna's farmers market returns
Popsicles and face masks might not seem compatible, but Gahanna's farmers market is attempting to make it work in the name of safety.
Visitors to the Make Gahanna Yours Farmers Market will find new vendors in addition to extra precautions as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Cait Masarik, president of Make Gahanna Yours, said the summer market will have 29 vendors, including five new companies.
The market, which kicked off June 7, will run from 3 to 6 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 27 at Gahanna Veterans Memorial Park, 73. W. Johnstown Road.
New vendor Stephanie Nowak of Dublin's Baked Better said she wanted to participate for two main reasons.
"The first is that our missions align," she said. "One of the market's objectives is to provide healthy food for the Gahanna community. While it could be argued that cookies are not necessarily healthy, Baked Better's offerings provide a more mindful way for people to treat themselves."
Nowak said all of her cookies are either vegan or gluten-free, and many are both.
"Whenever possible, organic ingredients are used in the cookie recipes," she said. "I also feel strongly about not including artificial colors in any of my cookies because chemicals should not have a place in our foods."
Nowak said that means the sprinkles on her soft frosted sugar cookies are colored with natural, vegetable-based dyes.
"The second reason the Gahanna market appeals to me is that we both are relatively early in our journeys," she said. "The current market had its birth last year, as did Baked Better as a business. We're on parallel paths, and there is the opportunity to grow together."
Matt and Bethany McCarty of McCarty's Taste of Eden will bring pasture-raised, non-GMO chicken and duck, grass-fed beef, eggs from free-range hens and some vegetables to the market.
The couple reside in the Mount Vernon and St. Louisville area and plan to move the farm to a site near Utica in the fall.
"We just purchased a little over 51 acres of land just outside of Utica in April," Bethany McCarty said. "We have planted the land to pasture and are starting to build a 'shome' (shop home), fence and other farm necessities."
McCarty said they believe that to be good farmers, their animals need to be well taken care of, and they need to invest in sustainable agriculture practices. They also must be mindful of how actions affect the environment and will provide a product that is healthful and nutrient-dense to the community, she said.
"We decided to join the Gahanna farmers market to fill the need for locally and sustainably raised meat and eggs in the area," she said. "We love getting to know our customers and knowing that we are providing our community with a product that not only tastes great, but is also healthy."
Bexley resident Steven White is another new market vendor with J-POPS.
"J-POPS are all-natural, no-additives, no-preservatives, gluten-free, no-coloring ice pops," he said. "The average pop has only four ingredients, made with whole fruits and other natural ingredients, including local produce whenever possible."
White said the handcrafted treats are made in a commissary near downtown Columbus, and he will bring a variety of them to Gahanna, including the signature flavor, lemon basil, as well as watermelon mint, fresh strawberry and pineapple mango.
"We have been a part of several farmers markets all over the city over the years and wanted to expand to Gahanna this year," White said. "We had heard very positive things about the market from other vendors."
Masarik said some of the returning vendors include Ohio Farm Direct, Midway Kettle Corn and Lemonade, Twin Oak Farms, the Crazy Cucumber and Florentine Legacy.
She said she's working closely with the city of Gahanna and Franklin County Public Health to host a safe market.
She said it will have a one-way traffic flow.
"Shoppers will stop at the welcome tent and wash their hands before entering the market," Masarik said.
"Volunteers will monitor the welcome tent station (and) the number of shoppers in the market throughout the event and help traffic flow through the market."
She said vendors will wear face masks and gloves and will have hand sanitizer or a hand-washing station available.
"We can't wait until we can safely bring back food tastings, cooking demonstrations, 'Little Seedlings' children's activities and live music," Masarik said.
"Until then, we ask that shoppers send one member of their family to the market to keep shopper count down and allow as many people as possible the chance to shop at the market."