Middletown and Myersville farmers markets provide fresh produce and charm to local communities

Middletown and Myersville farmers markets provide fresh produce and charm to local communities

By Rebecca Carroll, Round Table entertainment staff

Local farmers markets in Middletown and Myersville provide fresh produce and give citizens the opportunity to support community businesses. These markets provide a refreshing change from packaged, processed goods that are commonly found in commercial stores.

Many of the vendors at the markets are farmers, selling fresh produce to the community. One farmer, Tina Siegel sells a variety of produce, and this season’s market includes potatoes, peppers and pears. Most of the year Siegel also sells greens, tomatoes, sweet corn, and lettuce. Siegel additionally sells eggs from her chickens, usually laid the week of the market.

Other vendors are artisans, such as John Bergeron, who makes shaker boxes and trays. These boxes and trays are wooden containers, round or square made of delicately crafted wood in a simple yet pleasing style. Bergeron said, “I love working with wood, I love the art form, and it’s very unique. I start with raw lumber, make my own bands…the copper tacks hold them in place.”

The Middletown farmers market runs on Thursdays from 4:00-7:00 PM, in the Middletown Christ Reformed UCC parking lot. The borders of the parking lot are lined by small canopies with vendors underneath, selling their produce and commodities. This leaves the middle of the lot free for customers to survey each vendor and purchase goods. The Myersville farmers market has a similar set-up, only it is located in the parking lot behind the First United Bank, and it runs from 9:00 AM to noon on Saturdays.

The larger part of produce sold at the farmers markets is organic and free of chemicals, homegrown and freshly picked by the vendors. Produce in this form is healthier according to many of the farmers, including Siegel, who says, “When you eat food fresh, you’re getting higher nutrient levels, you begin to consume less food, you start to lose weight because you’re getting the nutrients you need, your community becomes healthy.”

The Myersville and Middletown farmers markets are in a local setting, so the smaller distances are another benefit of farmers markets. “Everything’s processed or baked or grown with in a very few number of miles…” said Kim Costanzo from the Myersville market, “…you’re definitely not putting as much gas and travel time into things.”

Customers seem to be attracted to the farmers market because it is a way to be environmentally friendly and support local businesses. Kathy Guerrero, a customer of the Myersville market simply yet clearly summarized that it’s like giving back to the community.

A farmers market is a significantly different environment than a grocery or chain store, such as Target or Walmart. When asked about the differences between commercial stores and local farmers markets, Joyce Plunkett of the Middletown market said, “I think people like to support local businesses and clearly produce or the baked goods don’t have any of the preservatives or some of the processed stuff that you would get in a grocery store.” Because the vendors usually grow their own produce or are closely linked to it, they are very knowledgeable about what they sell, and Ray Wickline, a peach farmer at the Middletown market acknowledged that an advantage of growing their own produce was that they can tell customers about the fruit and how it was grown.

Socially, the farmers markets can bring communities together, creating fellowship between vendors and customers. At the markets, vendors would often have a friendly chat with their neighbors if there were no customers at their stands. “It’s a lifestyle we really like, it’s peaceful, it’s happy, we get fantastic social life out of it. It’s a good way to be a part of the community…” mused Wickline, “…so it’s a great way for us to get to know our neighbors, interact with the community…and help people out.”

Wickline recounted a memory of a family that has visited the market year after year. Wickline has seen the children of the family grow up from infancy to the current season at the market, where the children are in elementary school. This kind of story shows the social opportunities that customers and vendors get at the farmers market that wouldn’t exist elsewhere.

Farmers markets can give community members an opening to a healthy lifestyle, new social opportunities, and a way of strengthening the community bond. Wickline simply concluded by saying, “Because we’re small, because we get to interact with people on a one-to-one basis, we’re giving them [shoppers] a customer experience that is hard to find anymore.” The refreshing feel of a farmers market brings the community closer together by supporting environmentally friendly businesses and adds a local charm to the towns of Middletown and Myersville.