On a warm April day, people in Montgomery
are gathering in a grassy lot next to city hall. There are eggs and soap for
sale, and every visitor gets a free tomato plant. In a corner, kids get their
faces painted and musician Kris Allen plays his guitar.
It’s the kickoff for the Montgomery Farmers' Market—a new
market on the Kanawha-Fayette county line.
Glenna and Paul Fox sit behind a table, displaying cartons
of large brown eggs. Their farm is in Fayette
“We’re selling fresh eggs,” Glenna Fox said.
The Foxes usually sell at the two farmers' markets in Fayette
County, but say they’re expanding
to the new Montgomery market this
“There’s a lot more people live in this valley than there is
up around Fayetteville, Oak Hill,”
Paul Fox said. “So if you can get a market down here, you may have more
customers. I just thought we’d try it.”
The Montgomery Farmers' Market is one of two markets WVU
Extension Agent John Porter is starting in Kanawha
County this year. The other is on Charleston’s
West Side. He says these markets are essential to the
success of the local foods movement in West Virginia.
“Well, I think it’s important if we’re going to develop the West
Virginia food economy and the farm economy that we
look at the relationship between the consumers and the producers,” Porter said.
“We need to make sure that the needs of both of those communities are being
met, sort of to meet them halfway. So, a farmer’s market is a great way to do
that because it provides a location for people who eat food and people who grow
food to meet.”
That’s one of Savanna Lyons’ goals too. She’s the director
of the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition. She says one way to increase
access to farmer’s markets is to allow food stamps. This, she says, will give
people an alternative to using their benefits at dollar stores for food with a
low nutritional value.
“For a lot of communities, the Family Dollar is a place that you can walk to
really easily and the grocery store is a difficult place to get to,” Lyons
said. “So, starting farmer’s markets in those kinds of communities is one way
to get rid of these food deserts where people can’t access food that’s health
Another local foods effort is underway in Raleigh
and Summers counties. The Lamb and Chevon Association is a marketing co-op of
lamb and goat farmers. WVU Extension Agent David Richmond says there’s a lot of
potential for lamb and goat meat in southern West
Virginia among certain ethnic groups, including
Indians and Pakistanis.
“They have a high demand for lambs and goats as their main
staple,” he said. “Ours is probably beef and hogs, where they have a like for
the lamb and goats. So our local supermarkets don’t have a big selection of
the Lamb and Chevon Association will get off the ground by June or July.
There’s another initiative in the northern part of the state, selling local beef
under the brand Mountain State Natural.
Back at the Montgomery Farmers' Market, Lou Ann Bowen is
buying baskets of flowers. She says her father used to own a produce market in Montgomery,
but since he died there’s no place to buy fresh produce in town.
“Oh, it’s so exciting,” she said. “I just like to see
anything come into our town it’s such a nice town and it kind of gets
down-rated all the time, so anything that’ll bring business in, I really
about 30 minutes from Charleston
and 30 minutes from Fayetteville.
Many residents drive to Charleston
for groceries. Diana Wilson of the Upper Kanawha Valley Economic Development
Corporation says rising gas prices will probably work in the local market’s
“The economy right now, I think will really benefit our
market because with the gasoline prices as high as they are, people aren’t
going to travel 30 or 40 minutes to go somewhere to purchase,” Wilson
said. “So I think as each community develops their farmers’ market it’s really
going to be beneficial to the community.”
The Montgomery Farmers' Market is held every Wednesday
afternoon through December.