NEW HAVEN — Two New Haven women who share a passion for gardening have joined forces to offer area residents a new option for purchasing fresh summer fare.
With the blessing of town administration, Jackie Blain and Debra Gilman Russell have organized a farmers market that will open May 28. Operating each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the market will be held in the town park, located at the entrance of the municipality on Fifth Street.
In addition to town support, James McCormick, of Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture, a state program, is also behind the efforts of the women. He has provided a banner which is now up along the road to mark the market’s location.
Blain said she expects the market to offer fresh vegetables and fruits, along with plants, flowers and seedlings at first. The women are open to the offerings of the vendors as long as they follow the regulations of the health department. Vendors will be able to set up at the park for free, but must provide their own tables. The women said they have already had interest shown by some of the local Amish families. Vouchers will be accepted, but it will be up to the vendors to complete the application process and training.
Blain and Russell said the purpose of the farmers market is twofold. First, it will provide residents with fresh, healthy options. Second, it will save people money by not having to drive outside of the area to buy local produce.
Blain is a former resident of Belpre and Marietta, Ohio, as well as Point Pleasant prior to moving to New Haven. She has completed the Master Gardeners program and describes herself as “very organically minded.”
“I enjoy gardening and preserving my own food,” she said. “I believe in organic versus processed.”
Russell is originally from New Haven, but lived in Florida for a number of years before moving back. She is certified in urban permaculture and since her return, has driven from New Haven to Athens, Ohio, to purchase from the farmers market there.
“I was happy when she (Blain) brought it up to council,” Russell stated. “I’m retired now and money is tight. It will definitely save me gas money.”
Blain and Russell know the farmers market is a big undertaking and are looking for volunteers to make up a farmers market board of directors. Even before opening day however, the two have many plans.
“We want people to bring chairs, to sit and talk under the shade trees,” Russell said. “We want to promote community. I envision people bringing instruments, playing music, having jam sessions, and teaching the younger people how to play.”
Both women said they would like to hold classes, such as community gardening, raised bed and container gardening, as well as other educational programs.
Blain and Russell are encouraging all farmers to participate in the market, noting the more participation, the more successful it will be. A Facebook page, “New Haven Farmers Market,” has been established for ongoing and updated information. Further details can also be obtained by calling 304-593-8205.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing who lives in Mason County.