Local residents interested in consuming healthier fruits and vegetables now have the opportunity to take advantage of Grow Ohio Valley’s Community Supported Agriculture program.
Ken Peralta, executive director of Grow Ohio Valley, explained that the cost for the new, eight-week program is $240 and will begin at a very good time during the local growing season. Enrollment is open until August 28.
“It will be the nicest time to be getting these fruits and vegetables because of the way this year’s growing season has progressed,” he said. “We had a slow start because of the extreme amount of rain we endured during the month of June, so everything is really popping right now.
“For a few months all we heard were questions about when the tomatoes would be ready, and now we have over a dozen of heirloom tomatoes ripening everywhere we planted them,” Peralta continued. “Apples and peaches are ready, and the sweet corn is amazing this year. We are also excited about our sweet potato crop that we have this year, and the gourds will be plentiful in the near future.
“And another reason why we wanted to offer this eight-week program was the delay we realized because of the weather. That made it challenging for us in the beginning of summer, but we’re going full throttle now, and we hope even more people decide to participate now that the delay is over,” he said. “We’ve also officially launched the mobile market, and we have added a sixth day so we can make even more stops than before.”
The CSA produce packages can be picked at the following three locations each Wednesday: Benwood (8-10:30 a.m. at the Monroe Muffler plaza); East Wheeling (11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on 14th and Jacob streets); and Woodsdale (4:30-6:30 in the Angelus Center parking lot near St. Michael School).
Those who wish to participate in the new eight-week program can do so by contacting Grow Ohio Valley at www.growov.org or by calling 304-233-GROW (4769).
An additional day of service has also been added to Grow Ohio Valley’s distribution via the mobile market. Beginning this week Thursdays will feature a stop near the international law firm Orrick, Sutcliffe & Herrington in the Centre Wheeling section of the Friendly City. Peralta added that more stops can be added if suggestions are made by the public.
“If there are people who would like for us to add a mobile market stop on our schedule, they should let us know that because our goal is to reach everyone who is interested in what we are doing and what we have available,” Peralta said. “An example of that is now we are adding a stop at Orrick in Centre Wheeling on Thursday afternoons, and we are looking to add more.
“At this point our Wednesday market in East Wheeling is very popular, and that’s likely because we started it last year, and the word has really gotten out about it,” he said. “So we are hopeful that as we continue visiting our stops, more and more people will learn about them and offer us their patronage.”
Customers also have options as far as payment when visiting one of the markets, including cash, check, credit or debit card, and they can utilize senior vouchers and the state’s food stamp program.
“Right now when our customers use their SNAP benefits with us and spend at least $10 they receive a $5 coupon in return that they can use the next time they shop with us,” Peralta said. “Reaching those customers is definitely a part of our mission and why we launched the mobile market in the first place, so we are very hopeful that we can reach more and more of those people.
“One of the most rewarding things we’ve experienced this year has been the reaction to the mobile market at our high-rise apartment complexes,” he said. “The people are very joyful when we visit, and we have heard a lot of stories about their memories of when their families had the backyard gardens and how good they remember those vegetables tasting, and they are very happy to have access to those kinds of foods again.”
Although sales will cease at the end of November, the winter season will be a busy one as the non-profit organization plans to begin earthwork on a pair of projects involving Wheeling Hill. Last year the Grow Ohio Valley crew worked long days to construct the pair of greenhouse facilities on the corner of 14th and Wood streets in East Wheeling.
“The two projects include the apple orchard on the east side of Wheeling Hill and the meadow on the west side,” Peralta said. “The orchard needs to be terraced, and we are hoping to have that completed by the beginning of January.
“As far as the meadow is concerned, we know what we would like to do but, we have to investigate what may be under the surface because we know buildings once stood on that land,” he continued. “And we’ll be working on the organization for the next growing season.”
For more information, and for the complete mobile market schedule, please visit Grow Ohio Valley’s Facebook Timeline at: https://www.facebook.com/GrowOhioValley?fref=ts.
(Photos by Steve Novotney)