If you want to learn more about us, you’re in the right place. Read to learn how we managed to grow our market
In 1978, a group of area citizens and farmers met with the Belmont County Extension Agent and began the process of forming a farmers’ market. After many months of meetings and planning, the Ohio Valley Farmers’ Market opened for its first season in July of 1979.
Since that first season, the market has relocated from the old county fairgrounds in St. Clairsville to its current location along the Ohio River in Bellaire. In addition, a second market was added on Thursdays and is now located at the Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville. The season has also been extended from a short 8 weeks to its current length of 22 weeks!
The mission and the purpose of the OVFM has evolved over the past four decades. The market site was once filled with many area farmers, but the Ohio Valley has seen a decline in the number of produce farms and orchards and a shift from selling through farmers’ markets to auction sales. The OVFM has resolved to not only provide a venue for existing farmers and small businesses to market their products but strives to encourage the growth of new farms through workshops and educational opportunities.
The OVFM encourages the growth and support of local farms and small businesses by educating consumers on the benefits and importance of supporting the market’s vendors. Each week, the market hosts a local musician, a Kid’s Corner, and the Ohio Valley Young Farmers’ Club. In addition, there are visits from local chefs who gather fresh produce and other products from the market and prepare them on site. There is educational material on topics ranging from GMO’s to the benefits of buying locally to fair-trade products, and much more. There is a strong focus on educating the consumer on the benefits to their health by consuming fresh, local produce. To this end, the market has invested in being able to accept USDA SNAP benefits at the market.
The OVFM is proud that we have played a role in some of our vendors and musicians successfully moving their part-time businesses or hobbies to full-time careers.
The OVFM is about much more than offering a venue for locally grown fruits and vegetables. The market also encourages and supports vendors with locally produced foods such as baked goods, pickles, pasture-raised meats, poultry, and eggs, cheese, jams and jellies, honey, maple syrup, candy, fresh-cut flowers, mushrooms, and more. Local artisans with fibers, soaps, personal care products, woodcrafts, art, jewelry, and other handmade items are another feature of the market.
Visiting the Ohio Valley Farmers’ Market allows the consumer to meet face-to-face with the farmer or craftsman who made the products they purchase. It is more than a shopping trip. It’s a social engagement that builds relationships, strengthens communities, and encourages the continuation of farming at a small and local level. Since 2003, the OVFM has adopted the slogan “Know your Farmer. Know your Food!” It’s our goal to continue to make our farmers’ market a viable and integral part of the communities and vendors we serve.