Mayor's Stage: Farmers continue sharing bounty in Grove City's Town Center

RICHARD L. "IKE" STAGE
Richard L. "Ike" Stage

Grove City's award-winning farmers market hosted by the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce has been a staple in our community for more than 30 years.

Vendors traditionally line the sidewalks of historic Town Center and sell their goods.

It's quite a sight to see -- locally made jams, jellies and honey; and truck beds filled with corn and brightly colored vegetables harvested directly from the fields of local farmers. I like to stroll amid the stands of garden-fresh produce on a sunny Saturday morning and enjoy the family-friendly, hometown charm the market brings to Town Center, where it has flourished since July 1989.

There is a special camaraderie found there -- neighbors and friends visiting, sharing stories and making plans for future get-togethers.

It's fun to witness parents making memories with their young children as they choose produce. You can typically enjoy tasting opportunities, take samples home or witness (and help "judge") cooking demonstrations and competitions with celebrity chefs.

Of course things are running a little differently this year and the samples, cooking demonstrations and competitions are on hold. But with social-distancing measures in place, online purchasing and drive-thru pick-up available, the chamber has kept the market open, supporting our local farmers and bringing fresh produce to us weekly.

Grove City's market and others like it are beneficial to local economies. When food is grown, distributed and sold locally, money stays in the area, leading to economic development and job creation. Additionally, businesses within Town Center enjoy increased sales from the foot traffic the farmers' market attracts.

The market is important to the livelihood of our local farmers as well as the overall health of the planet. While talking with some of the farmers, I learned most are using methods that minimize their impact on the earth. This supports a main focus of our community -- sustainability. Know your farmers, know your food.

In addition, their products do not typically require additional packaging and they also are transported shorter distances en route to Town Center. By using less resources than many of the farms supplying produce to larger grocery stores, our local farmers are reducing the use of natural resources, minimizing pollution and lessening landfill trash.

I still enjoy riding my bicycle to the market Saturday mornings and seeing the variety of offerings from our local farmers. I often have a list in mind of the items I'd like to buy. Peaches are in season, so they are on my list right now, and I'm looking forward to the ripe melons usually available later in the summer.

I definitely miss the larger gatherings at the market, allowed before the virus, and pitting my culinary skills (with a little help from others) against those of another local celebrities in the friendly cooking competitions. Yet I am grateful the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce and its committed vendors held it together, continuing to provide such a vital and time-honored tradition for our community.

Shop the farmers market from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday in the promenade of historic Grove City Town Center (the parking lot area behind Little Theatre Off Broadway); or order your produce online in advance at gcchamber.org/farmers-market for drive-thru pickup. The market runs through mid-September and all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and local health requirements are followed.

See you at the market!

Richard L. "Ike" Stage is the mayor of Grove City.