I have a new favorite farmer’s market. Sorry, East Liberty Citiparks Market, there’s someone else. Don’t worry – I’ll be back to visit you regularly, since this new relationship is long distance. Besides, you took the day off for the holiday anyway.
(Since I didn’t want to show you a picture of an empty parking lot, here’s a picture of my favorite farm stand from last year at the East Liberty market, Who Cooks for You Farm
. Great presentation, friendly farmers, organic produce!)
Back to my new love, The Wild Ramp
in Huntington, WV. Trust me, I was as surprised as you are. A coworker mentioned it before I left for a week of work in West Virginia, and I wanted to check it out. You never know about such places – could be great, could be so-so. In this case, The Wild Ramp is fantastic.
They’re located in a restored train depot, tucked away beneath a visitor’s information center, side by side with other locally owned shops. What makes them different from what we think of as a ‘regular’ farmer’s market is that it caters to the consumer *and* the farmer. It’s a non-profit, keeps regular business hours (several days a week) catering to the lunch hour and after-work crowd, and sells local produce year-round from producers within a 250-mile foodshed (focusing mainly on a 150 mile radius). They take a modest cut of the sold goods to support the store, and give back to the farmers by organizing periodic community volunteer days on farms. It helps get product to market in a new way, gives smaller producers the ability to sell without having to commit the time and resources to a traditional market stand, and supports the surrounding businesses by raising foot traffic. According to the local visitor’s bureau, the bakery (which makes a mean pain au chocolat) in the same complex saw its foot traffic double once the Wild Ramp opened.
Since I didn’t have a place to store perishables in my hotel room, I just grabbed some corn chips from Athens, Ohio and sassafras jelly from a nearby town in West Virginia. My brief foray into the store made me wish it was closer. In an area with rich rural history and commitment to local foods, the Wild Ramp is a new way to support your farmers. And if you work in downtown Huntington or live nearby, it’s dead easy. And that, my friends, is pretty awesome.
(Thanks to Leah at Brazen Kitchen
for being the impetus for this post!)