Spring has sprung, and that means fresh local produce is waiting for purchase at the Waynesboro Farmers Market on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The market opened May 4 at Constitution Park Pavilion, and so many vendors are participating this year that some have to set up on the lawn around the pavilion. “It’s really grown a lot this year,” said Jenna Piersol, executive director of Project Grows, which began managing the market in 2015.
Piersol said the market had been around for at least five years before that.
Market shoppers are also treated to live music this year as they shop for locally grown meat, eggs, vegetables, cut flowers, bread and baked goods. Special crafts are also available, as well as crafts for children.
All products come from within 60 miles of Waynesboro, and most are closer.
The market is open rain or shine, and usually offers products from 10 to 15 vendors every Saturday.
“We actually have a market mission,” Piersol said of the market.
For Project Grows, Piersol said “the big thing is to increase access to healthy food for people in the community.”
Piersol said she wants everyone to know that SNAP is accepted at the Waynesboro Farmers Market, in addition to incentive programs for using SNAP.
“We want to encourage people to use their SNAP benefits at the market,” Piersol said.
In the Double Dollars program at the market, SNAP users get the double of the serving they purchase. For example, if they spend $25 on their EBT, they get $50 worth of produce.
The Bonus Bucks program gives SNAP users an extra $10 to spend when they spend a certain amount at the market.
“It’s just a way we came up with because we don’t want people to feel limited [in using SNAP],” Piersol said.
Megan Townley, food access coordinator for Project Grows and the Waynesboro Farmers Market’s Market Manager, said live music this year is provided by the Loya Brothers, three brothers new to the music scene who live in Waynesboro.
“It’s a really great community atmosphere,” Townley, who lives in Harrisonsburg, said of the market this year.
Children’s activities are provided by Artsy Craftsy Inc., which did a special Mother’s Day craft with children a couple of weeks ago. This weekend, Townley said, the company will help children paint mugs for their fathers for Father’s Day.
Townley said a day at the Farmer’s Market is a nice Saturday for families, because it is not just about shopping, but “going and enjoying your Saturday” with your family.
Shoppers frequently tell Townley, she said, how much having access to local, fresh food has made a difference in their health and their lives.
“It’s become such a huge thing in Waynesboro, and I hope to see more people there,” Townley said.
Farmers at the market are also excited to share recipes and cooking tips with shoppers, and connect one-on-one with their customers.
In June a SNAP extension office intern will conduct demonstrations of cooking, share tips on shopping at the market and provide education about using SNAP benefits.
Townley said the demos and information offered by SNAP are completely free for the community.
Project Grows also manages the North Augusta Farmers Market open Wednesdays from noon to 5 p.m. at the Augusta County Government Center, 18 Government Center Ln., Verona. SNAP benefits are also accepted.
The Waynesboro Farmers Market is open every Saturday until the last Saturday in September. The North Augusta Farmers Market is open every Wednesday until the last Wednesday in October.