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Choices are endless at the Tuscarawas Valley Family Farmers Market

TVFFM offers local produce and goods on late Wednesday afternoon at the fairgrounds, in Dover.

Ann Swinderman

Every Wednesday, 3-7 p.m., from June through October, the Tuscarawas County Fairgrounds springs to life. Crates of gleaming tomatoes, gourmet lettuces, squash in all shapes and sizes, sweet corn, fragrant culinary herbs, and other produce begin to fill small stands as another day of the Tuscarawas Valley Family Farm Market (TVFFM) begins.

There are also eggs, poultry, beef, pork and chicken, seasonal fruits, fudge, jams and jellies, handmade soaps, potted plants, and a tempting array of freshly baked breads and pastries, cookies, pies, and other treats adorning the tabletops, along with lovingly handcrafted jewelry and other items, bouquets of cut flowers, sweet honey, pasta sauces, homemade noodles, and other delights.

However, a market-goer will not find any bananas, oranges, or grapefruit on these tables. Nor will there be sweet corn or a bounty of tomatoes in early June. The TVFFM vendors are all producers themselves, and pledge to bring only locally produced products to this very unique market. This means that foods at the weekly market are all not only local, but seasonal.

The Market Grill, run by volunteers, is also in full swing each Wednesday. Many stop by not only to shop, but also to enjoy an ever-changing menu of food choices, all created primarily with ingredients from market vendors. Customers can eat on-site, or order their food to take home with them.

"It's just good to see something like this going on," said market regular Joey Weaver of Dover, who prizes the market ingredients in his own passion for cooking. "It's also good to see people out and about, and to have the option of buying your produce directly from the farmer, instead of from a grocery store, where the food comes from who-knows-where."

"Any time you can use sustainable or organic cuisine, it's better all around," commented Matthew Ridgway, executive chef at Atwood Lake Resort. Ridgway was shopping for recipe ingredients. "You get freshness. (The produce) is not sitting in a warehouse or traveling long distances on a truck."

Fellow chef John Froman agreed. "I think you get much better quality locally and regionally. I would say it's usually hard to get fresh, local produce." Froman serves as chef at the Tuscarawas County Senior Center.

"I'm definitely looking forward to the future of this market," said McDonald-Marlite Center chef Cameron Krahel.

For vendor Tricia Mascotti, of Heavenly Soaps, this is her second season with the market, whose inaugural year was 2009. "I'm just looking to put my name out there so people know about my quality, handmade product. I put a lot of care, time, effort, and commitment to quality into every bar of soap I create. I also grow all the herbs that go into my soaps, and I enjoy visiting with my repeat customers at the market."

Although rains and threatening weather overshadowed the first two markets of the season, overall response has been good.

"At our June 2 market, the Market Grill was really hopping. We were thrilled to have that kind of response at the first market of the season," said Jonna Cronebaugh of Stone Creek, who, with a handful of other local volunteers, organized and now operates the market as a labor of love. The group initially brainstormed the idea when they were part of Leadership Tuscarawas, and the concept continued after their involvement in the leadership program was completed. "We have about 19 vendors now, and we keep growing," she added.

Special events throughout the season add to the market's mission to help connect local farmers with consumers who care deeply about the quality of the food they purchase for their families and to focus on community. Most activities are free of charge. The market is held from 3-7 p.m. each Wednesday, rain or shine.

The upcoming schedule includes: June 23: cooking demonstration, feature on the produce of the Stone Creek Peas & Carrots 4-H Club's community garden; June 30: food preservation and pressure cooker testing ($5 fee) from the OSU Extension; July 7: Healthy Tuscarawas health screenings; July 14: cooking demonstration, food safety, and cooking using herbs and spices; July 21: Health screenings, market day walk sponsored by the Fit Youth Initiative's summer walking program. Additional programs continue to be added. Groups wishing to provide a service or presentation at the market can contact market staff at http://www.tvffm.org, 330-364-1280, or 330-243-6373.

Published: June 16, 2010
New Article ID: 2010706189983