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Farmers’ Markets

In Westmoreland County

by Karen Fetter

Over the years, the popularity of farmers’ markets has grown significantly. People want to know where their food is grown and want it fresh. Westmoreland County residents are fortunate because there are thriving farmers’ markets in the area providing seasonal produce on a weekly basis!

One of the largest groups of agricultural vendors is the Central Westmoreland Farmers’ Market.  This is a cooperative of vendors in the greater Greensburg area which provides four different farmers’ markets throughout the week.  Paul Sarver, the owner of Sarver Hill Farm in Greensburg, leads the group and coordinates the markets.  Paul has been involved with the association since 1991, but has participated in farmers’ markets since their inception in the 1970s.

The season for farmers’ markets begins in April and lasts through the beginning of November.   

While the vendors mainly provide seasonal produce such as fruit and vegetables, they also offer other products such as baked goods, jellies, honey, sauces, and other seasonal items.

Four Central Westmoreland Farmers’ Markets

Greensburg Area

  • The first farmers’ market is held on Tuesday afternoons from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Westmoreland Museum of American Art's parking lot on North Main Street in downtown Greensburg.
  • The second farmers’ market is held Thursday afternoons from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Sarver’s Farm along Route 66 North.  This particular farmers’ market doesn’t begin until July, but will last into November.
  • The third farmers’ market is held Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at Lynch Field Parking lot on Rt. 819 North by the Kirk S. Nevin Ice Arena.

North Huntingdon

  • The fourth farmers’ market also takes place at Teddy’s Restaurant along Route 30 W in North Huntingdon on Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. to 12 Noon.

Enjoying Seasonal Produce

According to Paul Sarver, people interested in learning about farmers’ markets need to learn about the experience of eating local, seasonally grown foods.  

“No one can say that they can’t tell the difference between a fresh tomato and one that is bought out of season in a grocery store.  There is no comparison,” said Sarver.   

While grocery stores offer a wide selection all year long, such produce is often shipped over large distance, even from foreign countries.  That often means the food needs to be grown with shipping requirements in mind, not freshness or taste.  When produce is refrigerated and shipped long distances, it loses its flavor and vitality.   

Fresh, local produce can only be harvested at certain times of year and then it is over, making the experience of succulent, flavorful fruits and vegetables a precious treat.  For example, strawberries and blueberries are available in June, tomatoes are ready in July and August, and apples are harvested in September and October.   

 “Our stuff comes right out of the fields.  We pick it and bring it right to market,” said Sarver.

Healthy Fruits and Vegetables, Fresh from the Farm

What has increased the popularity of farmers’ markets is that people are more health conscience and they want a closer, more personal connection with the farmers who are growing their food.  

Paul Sarver of Sarver Hill Farm explains, “People are busy and live in a hectic world.  It is hard for them to grow their own food.  Farmers’ markets get them as close to “home grown” produce as possible.  But it isn’t just about shopping for weekly groceries.  Friendships develop and farmers’ markets help build a sense of community,” said Sarver.  

With such a focus on healthy fruits and vegetables, fresh from the farm, some market goers experience withdrawal during the winter months when the market closes.  Some serious customers will commute into Pittsburgh to try to extend the season, but the freshness is still not the same.  Sarver tries to extend the local markets as much as possible into November to accommodate the demand.

The Central Westmoreland Farmers’ Market vendors also participate Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), which allows people to buy subscriptions to receive a basket of produce that is in season each week.  The program lasts about 20 weeks and involves 110 families.

Farmers Markets in Latrobe and Ligonier

The Latrobe Farmers’ Market

In addition to the Central Westmoreland Farmer’s Market, there are also highly popular markets in Latrobe and Ligonier.   

The Latrobe Farmers’ Market takes place on Tuesday afternoon from Noon until 4 p.m. under the sponsorship of Latrobe Community Revitalization organization headed by director Annette Couch.   

The Latrobe Market is located at the Legion Keener parking lot in downtown Latrobe.  The vendors offer fresh produce, crafts, prepared foods, and more.  Vendors have to make it, bake it, or create it to participate in the market.  This year the number of vendors increased to 29!  Lunchtime at the market is also increasing in popularity due to all the tasty foods offered.   

“This has become a community event where people come to interact with each other.  It also helps promotes a healthy lifestyle with farm fresh produce.  How can you beat it?” said Annette Couch.   

 This is the sixth season for the market and it holds a steady customer base.  In addition, every other week there is a contest through the local newspaper, the Latrobe Bulletin.  Contestants clip out the Farmers’ Market ad from the newspaper and bring it to the market for a chance to win a local restaurant gift certificate.   

The Latrobe Farmers’ Market continues weekly through October 23, 2012.

The Ligonier Country Market

One of the most widely known farmers’ markets is the Ligonier Country Market that takes place every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon at the Loyalhanna Watershed Farm near the intersection of West Main Street and U.S. Route 30 in Ligonier.   

This market has over 100 vendors offering a wider selection than the typical farmers’ market.  Vendors sell fresh picked produce, a wide variety of flowers from annuals to perennials to fresh cut arrangements, farm beef, poultry and eggs, along with specialty breads, pastries, hot cooked foods, honey, and maple syrup. Also available are handmade crafts including jewelry, purses, country crafts, wood items, pet items, dog treats, and candles.  

In addition, each week there is different special guest featured.  Some guests appearing for the 2012 season include the Penn State Extension Service offering tips on canning and freezing your Market produce, the Riverside Players, the Cigar Box Guitars by Speale, Celtic Fiddle by Terry Greene, Westmoreland Botanical Society, and Edible Allegheny Magazine.  

The Ligonier Country Market began in 1976 when Ligonier was celebrating its bicentennial.  There were just 12 vendors set up that year, but their enthusiasm more than made up for their small numbers.  These founding vendors moved forward to incorporate the market as a non-profit organization ,and it has only grown since then.   There are fifteen volunteer members of the board, a paid manager, and an operations manager that help make it so successful.   

Despite the fact that the site for the market has changed several times, it has not changed its appeal to the customers or vendors.  This has made the Ligonier Country Market one of the oldest and largest farmers’ market in Western Pennsylvania.

Farmers Markets in Jeannette and Mount Pleasant

 Other markets of note include Jeannette Farmers’ Market on the 500 block of Clay Ave. from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays, and the Mount Pleasant Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays from 1 -6 p.m. in Memorial Square on Main Street.   

 No matter where you live in Westmoreland County, take the opportunity this summer to enjoy fresh, locally grown produce and visit one of these Farmers’ Markets today!    

Make a change, eat healthier
and support your local farmers' market!

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