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The Suburbanite
  • Jackson Farmer's Market opens new season

  • North Park has gone organic. The annual Jackson Farmer's Market, which brings in local farmers and vendors from across Northeast Ohio to sell homegrown fruits and vegetables and homemade products, began its 2013 season on July 11 with 13 vendors from five different counties.

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  • North Park has gone organic. The annual Jackson Farmer's Market, which brings in local farmers and vendors from across Northeast Ohio to sell homegrown fruits and vegetables and homemade products, began its 2013 season on July 11 with 13 vendors from five different counties.
    The weather was ideal for the event, as warm temperatures and sunny skies gave vendors and shoppers a respite from a week of rain and overcast skies. With all sellers situated along the green running path along Community Drive, colors and signs abounded, advertising nearly every conceivable type of fruit, vegetable, plant and flower, along with herbs, honey, syrup and baked goods.
    All of the items are either grown or made in Ohio.
    For Woolf Farms, a Columbiana County-based grower, the farmer's market is a chance to get out on the road and sell a rotating selection of produce that changes over the course of the summer and into the fall. Dale Woolf, who operates the farm's stand at the market, explained that he has come to Jackson every year and enjoys traveling to various farmer's markets around the area during the summer months.
    "It's about a 40-minute drive for us, but we have been here since this started," Woolf said.
    Although one might expect that an abundance of rain as opposed to the dry, arid conditions that often prevail in Northeast Ohio in mid-summer would be beneficial for farmers, Woolf explained that the rain does not always have a positive impact on his crops.
    "Actually, I like to have it dry and that's better because what happens is there tends to be more flavor when it's dry as opposed to having lots of rain," Woolf added.
    For opening day, Woolf Farms sold sweet peaches, blueberries and green beans, but that selection will change throughout the summer. As summer ends and gives way to fall, the farm harvests its apple crop and makes its own cider and doughnuts to go with it.
    For many vendors, selling at the farmer's market is a family endeavor. Jessica Graciani and her four children operate a stand selling more than a half dozen types of vegetables grown at their small farm in Moffitt Heights, near Massillon.
    Ohman's Fresh Produce set up its stand with several types of squash in large bins under a small canopy, with bright yellow and dark green squash selling at the price of five for $1.
    Carrots, lettuce, squash, beans and corn are among the most common items on sale at the market and this year's selection of vendors is slightly larger than last year's, according to Dave Ruwadi, director of the Jackson Township Parks and Recreation Department. Sellers from Stark, Summit, Carroll, Holmes and Columbiana counties have all registered for this year.
    Page 2 of 2 - "We have a large varitety here and it's as big as last year, maybe a little bigger," Ruwadi said.
    For Jackson resident Ryan Bajornas, the market provides a chance to shop locally and buy fresh, organic food in a colorful setting. It's an experience Bajornas has been lookimg forward to for several weeks.
    "It's been great so far. There's a lot going on here and I've been looking forward to this farmer's market,' Bajornas said. "I've been watching the calendar and it's opening day, so here I am filling up the bag and have gotten a lot of good stuff, a lot of fresh produce, a lot of squash and I've gotten some cucumbers and pickles."
    In addition to farmers selling fruits and vegetables, several stands also offer plants and cut flowers. Aunt Lulu's Homemade Greek Pastries provides more immediate culinary satisfaction for those who may not want to wait until they get home to cook and eat their purchases from the market, selling traditional Greek favorites and beverages that many shoppers picked up and snacked on while the visited the rest of the vendors.
    The market definitely had a community vibe on its first day as a local Girl Scout troop sold lemonade to raise money and township officials were on hand to ensure that the day ran smoothly and to answer any questions customers or sellers might have. Traffic along the row of merchants was steady from 3 p.m., when the market opened, until closing time at 6:30 p.m.
    For the next two months, the market will be open every Thursday, with the final day for the year being Sept. 19.
    Reach Andy at 330-899-2872 or andy.harris@TheSuburbanite.com.
    On Twitter: @aharrisBURB