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Farmer's market season begins

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TALK: Chelsea Garrihy, left, talks to a customer as her coworker at Doc’s Apothecary Katlyn Dougherty, right, smiles. The pair offer soaps and handmade, all natural skin products to diversify the marketselection.
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WEIGH: Hobbs Produce co-owner Jackie Hobbs weighs a hot-house tomato for a customer during Wednesday’s market. Hobbs Produce uses a heated greenhouse to prepare for the farmer’s market season to combat erratic weather.

by Andrew Maciejewski - amaciejewski@h-ponline.com

Nothing was certain Wednesday afternoon as the Huntington Farmer’s Market opened for the season.

Dark, dreary clouds loomed overhead as the radar warned of possible patches of rain while the vendors sold their goods from 4-7 p.m.

The market also moved this year, making it the third time in three years that shoppers have had to search for the its location, but the tents and pedestrians blocking Jefferson Street between Market and Franklin streets in downtown Huntington didn’t go unnoticed.

Hobbs Produce co-owner Kandi Hale-Roseverry said numerous people decided to park their cars and check out the market after they reached the roadblock.

“It’s a little bit different so far, but we’ve had quite a few people downtown today,” Hale-Roseverry said. “Hopefully we’ll have more next week – given the rain (we had) today. Since people were thinking it was going to rain all day, not as many venders came down, but we’ll just keep growing it. Hopefully we’ll have to block off another street. That would be great.”

As if those issues weren’t enough to threaten opening day, the above average rainfall that’s fallen across the region this spring has delayed this year’s crop, but Hale-Roseverry said she’s learned how to deal with erratic weather.

Each January, she starts her daily routine of preparing for the market. Up until Februrary, she’s spent time over winter chopping wood daily so that she can plant her tomato crop in a heated greenhouse, called a hot house, which allows her to start selling locally-grown produce as shoppers begin to get eager for summer meals.

“It’s a lot,” she said about the preparation. “Every day, we’re doing something.”

Her hot-house tomatoes and herbs sat beside other vendor’s offerings, including flowers, plants, fresh eggs, pies, soaps and hand-crafted items, but as each week goes on, Hale-Roseverry said the offerings will continue to expand.

“I know the growing season’s been kind of off this year with how much rain we’ve got,” she said. “That’s kind of put a delay on things, but as the season goes, we’ll have more. We’re hoping to have strawberries next week, but you never know. So we’ll see.”

Even though squash and other typical summer produce wasn’t abundant at the market, Chelsea Garrihy and Katlyn Dougherty, who own Doc’s Apothecary, are one of a few vendors who sell non-seasonal items. The pair offers handmade soaps, hemp seed shea butter and all natural skin care products.

Garrihy said she always gets excited for the farmer’s market season because she likes to meet members of the community, and Hale-Roseverry agreed.

“We want it to be a good season for everyone. We’ve been doing this a long time, and we love it,” she said.

Although fall is a long time away, Hale-Roseverry said she can’t wait to offer fresh apples from Phil’s U-Pick apple orchard because she said the taste really outshines store-bought apples.

“They’re picked earlier and so they don’t have that taste,” she said.

“They’re in storage for anywhere between eight to nine months before they hit the sales floor,” Hobbs Produce co-owner Jackie Hobbs chimed in.

The benefit of sourcing produce locally is that you can ask how things are grown, Hale-Roseverry said.

If you go to the grocery store to get apples and take a butter knife to the skin, there’s a wax on it,” she said. “Our apples out there are sprayed with a soap-based pesticide, so wash it and you’re good.”