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Farmer’s Market ripe for picking

The Ironton Farmer’s Market is open and ready for business near the intersection of South Second and Vernon Streets, also known as the municipal lot.

The market is open on the weekends, with most of the business happening on Saturday mornings. The location changed last year from Park Avenue.

“People don’t really know where it is,” said Sharon Gothard of Ironton, a gardener who participates in the Farmer’s Market. She added that some signs are being worked on to make the location more recognizable.

The market is always looking for more venders and more customers. There is no charge to set up a stand at the market.

“Most people think of it as a place where people can sell vegetables,” Gothard said. “It’s anything homemade or homegrown.”

Gothard added that baked goods and flowers are also welcome. Civic organizations and church groups are also encouraged to use this as a way to help their organizations by hosting bake sales. Individuals are also welcome to sell items.

“People are having a hard time financially and may not be aware that they can do this,” Gothard said.

Carol Allen is the Ironton in Bloom co-chairwoman, and said that while it is not a part of Ironton in Bloom, members feel it is very significant for the downtown and helps create a better standard of living.

“For some, particularly women at home,” Allen said, “It can be a source of extra income.”

Allen added that homemade things like purses and other crafts can be sold at the market as well.

Allen has attended farmer’s markets in many cities and said places like Athens have eggs, salsa and ice cream for sale, and even a vender selling hot dogs and soft drinks.

Items like these are important to have at the markets, as Allen notes local produce typically isn’t available until late June.

“The more vendors we get and the greater variety, the more people we will get downtown,” Allen said. “That is our goal.”

Mayor Rich Blankenship said there are a lot of people farming, and this is an opportunity for people to bring in their produce and sell it.

“We’re trying to beef it up this year and get people to sell more things,” Blankenship said.

“There’s plenty of parking and it gets people downtown,” Blankenship added, “Maybe even going into a nearby store.”

Allen echoed that by saying it is not to take away from the downtown business, but to add to it.

Another benefit for Gothard is the social aspect of it.

“I get to talk to a lot of people I have never met,” Gothard said. “It’s a good way to be in touch with the people you live with.”

Allen said there are plans in the works for improving the market. A grant has been approved and, under this Depot Square Renovation Project, a covered shelter will be built and should be ready sometime in the fall of 2011.

While fresh produce and flowers and most baked goods do not need permits, certain food items do.

To find out more information on permits, contact Paul Drescher, environmental health director, at (740) 532-2172.