By Michilea Patterson, The Mercury
POTTSTOWN >> Get fresh with it at the local outdoor farmers market which now has a variety of fruits and vegetables available along with weekly entertainment.
Now is the time farmers are harvesting some of those customer favorites like tomatoes and peppers. All Pottstown area residents have to do is walk along High Street Thursday evenings for those farm fresh produce items. The Pottstown & Artisan Regional Market, or FARM for short, opened for the first time in early May and will continue until October.
Sheila Dugan, Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority executive director and the FARM market manager, said she’s learned a lot form opening the market for the first time. When the market opened in May, people were expecting more produce but it just wasn’t available at the time, Dugan said.
“We are trying very hard to encourage people to come back out because now the produce is starting to come out,” she said.
Audra Ross, of the Pottstown FARM Committee, said there is now a variety of produce available for shoppers. Vendors selling produce include Tine & Toil Farm as well as Steer Vegetables & Herbs. Daniel’s Produce and Dairy Store is also open during the outdoor market.
“The heirloom tomatoes are coming in strong. I’ll have those for many months now,” said Nathan Hasler-Brooks of Tine & Toil Farm.
Hasler-Brooks will also have fresh garlic, onions, cucumbers, squash, arugula, spring lettuce mixes, peppers and more in the upcoming weeks.
Steer Vegetables and Herbs will also have heirloom tomatoes in addition to corn, peppers, green beans, zucchini and more. The farm will now be selling more fruit such as peaches and pears which wasn’t the case at the market’s opening.
Daniel’s Produce and Dairy is located on E. High Street right along the outdoor farmers market. Produce available at the store includes apples, tomatoes, peppers, melons and more.
Dugan said the outdoor market is currently looking for additional farmers to be vendors. She said if the community knows of any potential prospects then they can give the contact information to one of the organizers of the outdoor market.
“It is not expensive to be a part of the farm. It has been so successful that those that were coming every other week, for the most part they’re now coming every week,” Dugan said.
The outdoor market also has several vendors selling items other than vegetables and fruits such as jewelry, meats, cheese, candles, honey, sauces made with fresh ingredients and more. Ross said people can also enjoy snacks while they shop at the market. Manatawny Green is providing hotdogs, popcorn and pretzels.
The market isn’t just for shopping but also for entertainment. There are different musical performances every week and sometimes there’s a specific theme. This Thursday, the market will do “Christmas in July.” The MOMS Club of Pottsgrove and Pottstown started doing a Christmas gift away program a couple years ago, Ross said. The group starts collecting items early and wanted to do so at the outdoor market.
“It’s gently used toys for needy families,” Ross said adding that customers are encouraged to bring their Christmas toy donations to this week’s market.
Santa will be singing Christmas tunes from 4 to 6 p.m. There will be cookie decorating at Beverly’s Pastry Shop from 4 to 6 p.m. Mosaic Community Gardens will be doing a kids craft table. Free watermelon Christmas trees and watermelon salad recipe cards will be available at Grumpy’s Handcarved Sandwiches.
The market is also currently accepting applications for their pie baking contest. Forms are due by Monday and available on the Pottstown FARM website. The contest is for amateur bakers and the pies must be made from scratch.
Dugan said the long term success of the Pottstown outdoor farmers market will really depend on the community so she encourages everyone to come out and enjoy the events. She said the downtown restaurants are open during the market so if people need to, they can cool down inside.
The market is open every Thursday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the 200 block of High Street. For more information about Pottstown FARM, visit the website at www.pottstownfarm.org.