WEST CHESTER (July 23, 2019) – Summer is the peak time to enjoy delicious dishes crafted from fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and there’s no better place to do your grocery shopping than one of Chester County’s 10 farmers’ markets.
State Senator Andy Dinniman, who serves on the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, said the markets, farm outlets, and CSAs continue to support growing customer base for healthy, farm-to-table options.
“Chester County has a rich heritage in agriculture and farming and that heritage is alive and well today as we continue to support the contributions of local and family farms throughout the region,” he said. “It’s also a testament to our support for a clean environment, sustainable farming practices, and most nutritious foods for our families.”
Dinniman recently visited the West Chester Growers Market (WCGM) in honor of its 25th anniversary. The market opened in July 1995 and has continued to operate seasonably at the same location – the corner of North Church and West Chestnut Streets.
In fact, 4 of the ten farming families that helped launch the market 25 years ago – Stoltzfus, Fahnestock, Kerschner, and Hauser – continue to operate and participate today.
The WCGM is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. from May through December and every first, third, and fifth Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon from January through April.
Paul Hauser, who is credited as a driving force behind the establishment of the WCGM, said that the market has succeeded due to optimism, hard work, and hope.
“We were optimistic that people would come, and we hoped that they would come back,” he said.
When WCGM opened, it was the first and only producer-only market in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Since then it has become a model for numerous markets that have spawned in many communities throughout the region. Today, Chester County is home to nine other farmers’ or growers’ markets including in Downingtown, Eagleview, East Goshen, Kennett Square, Malvern, New Garden, Oxford, and Phoenixville. You can view a complete listing and guide to them and other sources of local farm products here.
In addition, Dinniman reminded senior citizens that they may be eligible to receive homegrown fruits and vegetables from local farmers markets completely free of charge.
The Pennsylvania Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program provides senior citizens with four $5 checks for a total benefit of $20. These checks can be used at participating farmers’ markets and roadside stands throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania. Eligible seniors must be at least 60 years old and have an annual income of less than $23,107 for a single individual and $31,284 for married couples. The Pennsylvania Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program operates in all 67 counties and at more than 1,000 markets and farm stands.
“Our neighborhood farmers markets provide not only a taste of the freshness local agriculture has to offer, but also an opportunity to support open space and healthy nutrition,” Dinniman said. “Furthermore, as has occurred in West Chester, these markets help forge a bond between the local community and local agriculture. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”