Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Uptown Westerville Farmers' Market: A Change of Pace

It is peak produce season in Central Ohio! The peaches are ripe, the sweet corn is ready, and tomatoes are just right for slicing and eating! 

In the land of shopping innovation (also know as greater Columbus), we are fortunate to have access to fresh produce 24/7/365.  Yet, the intensity of the rich flavors in the vegetables and fruits grown in local soils and ripened under the Ohio summer sun is beyond compare - and that's why we celebrate and enjoy our farmers' markets.

Farmers' market fare comes to market in phases and at a slower pace  -  so we see asparagus only in the early weeks of the market, our berry seasons may run a week or two, and peaches, tomatoes, and sweet corn are available starting in July. 

Farmers' markets operate at a slower pace. Markets set up in parking lots, parks, town squares, and along city streets, so even though a farmers' market is a place of business, there are no doors and no velvet ropes. Over the summer, a farmers' market becomes a community, and from vendors to customers, everyone who touches the market fuels its success. 

Customer service and care at a farmers' market is one person at a time. 

Here in Westerville, the Uptown Westerville Farmers' Market opens for business on Wednesdays at 3 p.m.  Three hours each week, a simple parking lot, graciously provided by Church of the Messiah, comes alive to honor an ancient form of community - the outdoor market.  We have a great location that even accommodates customer parking. Early mornings we "cone-off" the lot to public parking; noonish or so, we prep the lot for vendor arrival, and from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. our vendors arrive and set up their shops.
On Market Wednesday, between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., we focus on one thing - market set up.

Market vendors pack their shops in their vehicles (tents, tables, gear, merchandise) and, from Wooster to Washington Court House, drive from parts north, south, east, and west around Central Ohio to Westerville. Our produce vendors fresh-pick, so their days start in the wee hours of the morning as they prep to come to Westerville.  The hour we provide for set up gives our vendors plenty of time to pull in, take care of any immediate needs, set up, and prepare their merchandise (and both peach vendors look at each peach as they prepare their product for sale).

All vendors open for business at the same time: when the market opens for business: at 3 p.m. There are no early sales.

Central Ohio peaches are off-the-charts awesome (just the aroma, let alone the taste - ahhhh) and we have two excellent orchards: Malabar Peach and Apple (Ashland County) and Branstool Orchards (Licking County). Both orchards offer unique selections. 

During peach season, especially in the early weeks, lines form for peaches during market set up times.  It's a tremendous compliment to our orchards that people are willing to wait in line for their fresh-picked peaches.

From a customer care standpoint, we want to make sure that you don't have frustrated expectations when coming to market:

▪ There are no early sales. 3 p.m. is 3 p.m.

▪ Parking: We are adapting this market to the available space. There is excellent open parking to the east of the market lot, but it's obviously what we might call "rustic" with no parking guidelines. Please, when you park, park like you would at the grocery or for church. Please don't double-park (we guarantee you won't just be a minute) and please leave enough space in front, behind, and to the sides so everyone, including you, can access their vehicle when they are ready to head out. 

The market makes sure there are clear throughways to the market space should there ever be the need for urgent care. Please keep that in mind as you make your parking decisions.

We are also part of a neighborhood, so we want to drive and park accordingly.

Last week, customer parking was the best ever - thank you, everyone!

▪ Reality: You will stand in line. 

And, there really are no sales until 3 p.m. If you choose to come early, we just ask that you maintain an awareness that you are now a part of market set up and if a vendor needs to pull their vehicle into their space, you'll need to be aware and move out of the way.

As you come to market, know ahead of time you'll need to slow the pace. Bring a friend, bring a camp stool, bring something to read, listen to, play, or watch, meditate, take the time to just relax. If it's hot, do the things you normally do to stay cool. Chances are good you'll run into someone you know or haven't seen in a while, too.

This week, there is a slight chance of rain during set up, bring rain gear or an umbrella just in case.

One more tidbit - we want you to enjoy your market experience - please lock your vehicles and make sure any electronics or valuables are stored out of sight. When you are shopping, don't ever allow yourself to be distracted from your valuables or your purchases.

Visit. Taste. Browse. Shop. Thank you for your enthusiasm for Market Wednesdays in Uptown Westerville!!!

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