Local farmers produce more options for shoppers
David Thompson, of Hill Farm in Mineral Point, picks onions to be sold at the farmer's market in downtown Johnstown (Dacia Idom)
Freshness and lower prices are just two of the main benefits local produce according to Nichole Hill, owner of Hill Farm and a frequent vendor at the downtown Johnstown, West End and Westmont farmer markets.
"We usually pick everything no more than 24 hours before the market," Hill said. "The fact that it is not being shipped on a truck or shipped two weeks in advance, at least you know it comes from this country. It is a lower price because it is not traveling as far, and there is no packaging."
She also said there has been an increase in the number of customers who are interested in how the vegetables being sold were grown and if chemicals were used.
"When we first started selling about six years ago in Johnstown, people would come up to ask us, ‘What does organic mean anyway?'" Hill said. "Now, they are looking for organic, even if it is just a small sign at the table."
She said whether people know about organic growing or not, customers recognize a difference once they taste the vegetables.
"The food talks for us," Hill said. "Once (customers) tasted and took a product, they were back again."
Providing the community with healthy and safe food is important she said.
"It is a pleasure for us to do what we do," Hill said. "It's good to be able to produce and give it right back to the community because it is hard to find good food especially in the store, and we do offer a decent price for most of the stuff we sell."
With mostly fruits and vegetables, Eleanor Harris, co-owner of Harris Greenhouse, said freshness is also guaranteed for her products.
"They can get a lot of fresh produce and a lot cheaper," Harris said. "Here, we raise it and take it fresh. We cut our lettuce just before we go the market."
A noticeable increase for people desiring organic-grown food has been seen at the markets she said.
"They really care about what you spray," Harris said. "We are not certified for organic, but we can pick our things straight from the field because we don't spray the chemicals."
Customers appreciate the lack of chemicals being used, and they show it by their continued business with Harris.
"We get lots of customers," she said. "We have a long line waiting. We do pretty good at the farmer's market."
In addition to fruits and vegetables, Harris said she also sales baked goods and plants.
"They can get everything they need," she said. "I go with my husband every Tuesday and Friday."
Josh Summits, the manager of the West End and downtown markets, said there are many reasons to buy from local vendors at the market.
"One, is you're supporting a local business," Summits said. "All these vendors are either individually or family-owned producers."