The arrival of local sweet corn, the annual free community corn roast, and a chance to win the next $20 produce drawing. All this, and local, fresh and organic produce will greet customers at the Gays Mills Farmers Market on August 15.
The community corn roast, begun in 2010, has become a very popular event. It’s a chance for vendors to show appreciation for customer loyalty. New this year is the monthly $20 produce drawing. Farmer market customer Dolly Coleman won the drawing in June and JoAnn Jennings won in July. The next drawing is set for August 29.
The weekly Wednesday market, conducted rain or shine from 2:30 to 6 p.m., is held in the Gays Mills Lions Park Shelter.
“We moved into the shelter two years ago, and it has meant greater convenience for customers and vendors alike,” said Brian Austin, chair of the market’s organizing committee. “And as the days have gotten hotter, we’ve been even more convinced of the wisdom of the move.”
The Wednesday schedule coincides with the Gays Mills Food Pantry’s schedule. Food pantry patrons can get vouchers, supported by the Crawford Markets Care program, which can be redeemed for farmers market products.
Weather has played a part in delaying this year’s local corn harvests, as well as in bringing berries and some other produce in early. It’s meant farmers carrying water to thirsty plants and sometimes seeing plants wither anyway. However, vendors say it’s satisfying to share the produce with appreciative customers. And they enjoy sharing gardening tips and recipes using the veggies they sell.
In fact, a cooking demonstration will be offered in early September, with vendors preparing veggies and mushrooms and offering free samples of the dishes.
“We want to help our customers get comfortable with items they don’t usually buy, or learn new ways to prepare familiar items,” said Ramon Chien, a farmers market vendor. “People often look at things like rutabaga, kohlrabi, mushrooms and eggplant, for example, and ask, ‘What is it?’ or ‘How do you cook it?’ and we want to give some helpful answers to those questions.”
Some of the recipes that will be demonstrated can be found on the website, gaysmillsfarmersmarket.com.
Market organizers have been seeing a slowly increasing number of customers, Austin said. The vendors hope Gays Mills and surrounding communities continue to support the market.
“It’s sort of discouraging to pick and clean and arrange your produce only to have to take it back home again,” Austin said.