This week and the following week I’ve been attending and participating in WVU’s GDI Bootcamp. Bootcamp is a time where the new interns can become adjusted to Morgantown, meet faculty and their advisors, set up their schedule, and more. It is also helpful for the second year interns (including myself) to meet the new interns, hear from guest speakers, and practice our public speaking and presentation skills.
On Wednesday, intern Roanna Martin presented “Local Food: Space for Conversation” where she covered the growing movement of “Buy Fresh, Buy Local,” Farm to School, school gardens, CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), Farmers Markets in West Virginia, the economic impact of local foods, and the use of SNAP benefits at farmers markets through the use of EBT (electronic benefit transfer).
Local foods, especially farmers’ markets are a growing movement. There are now more than 7175 farmers’ markets around the US, which is more than 3 times the amount of farmers markets 15 years ago!
Farmers markets have many benefits. Not only do they offer a place and a space for the community to meet together and share positive food experiences, but they also can provide a place for kids to get excited about nutrition, community members to learn about cooking and nutrition, and a place for farmers and small business community members to earn money. In fact, there was an estimated $1.725 million dollars spent at the 34 markets across the state of West Virginia (for a total of 331 vendors) in 2005. That’s a lot of cash flow, and even more so now that there are around 60 markets in West Virginia currently.
There are 4 Farmer’s markets in Morgantown. Here are the days, times, and market information:
Farmers markets not only have fresh fruits and vegetables, but they also have meat products, eggs, dairy products, grains, and baked goods such as pies, cinnamon rolls, and fresh bread. You can also find flowers, homemade jams & jellies, honey, caramel corn, herbs, homemade dog treats (!), and craft, fabric, & woodwork items. Attending a farmers’ market can be a great way to meet other like-minded individuals in the community, support local businesses, purchase some great, fresh produce and other delicious food items. While fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets have the same nutritional value as fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, the produce is often fresher and of higher quality because it doesn’t travel 1500 miles to get to your dinner plate.
Photo taken at the South Morgantown Market, courtesy of Roanna Martin
Photo taken at Barbour Co. Farmers’ Market (1 hour south of Morgantown), courtesy of Roanna Martin
Farmers’ Markets are also a great way to get to know the local food culture in the particular region where the market is held. If you find yourself traveling across the country for one reason or another, why not visit a local farmers’ market and pick up some fresh produce from that region? Here’s a snapshot I took while in Kilauea, Kauai, Hawaii this past December. Notice how the local food of Hawaii is a bit different from the local food of West Virginia!
Fresh & Local Fruit at the Kilauea Farmers’ Market in Kauai, Hawaii