Marion County Farmers Market to open June 1

Marvie Marchbanks is the manager of the Marion County Farmers Market in Weston

By Kathryn “Chazz” Hirschfeld
Staff writer

HAMILTON — The Marion County Farmers Market will open for the season on Saturday, June 1, at 7 a.m. in the old Weston fire station at 2151 Bexar Avenue West.
Hours of operation will be Saturdays, from 7-11 a.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 4-6 p.m.
“We’ll have eight hours a week devoted to our vendors wanting to bring things to the market,” manager Marvie Marchbanks said.
“We want to be an enhancing feature for the city. We want our vendors to be able to enhance themselves and others with their fresh offerings. We put no pressure on our vendors, and all we ask is that out of their generosity, they share the surplus of what they have and sell at what they think is a fair price.”
Since many are selling just their surplus, the manager noted some of his vendors will sell out within a couple of hours.
“It’s while supplies last at our market,” Marchbanks said.

New growers
previous growers welcomed back
Marchbanks invites growers to contact him about becoming a vendor, if they have not previously set up at the location. He is happy to help walk new growers through the application and approval process.
Vendors selling to those using EBT and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers are required to have a permit and use SoliMarket software.
“There are some guidelines specific to the Marion County Farmers Market,” he noted. “We have to stick with the protocols the state has utilized, but I’ll help you figure it all out. And when they visit the market, we can help seniors figure out how much is left on their vouchers, too.
“If you’re a new vendor wanting to participate, you’re welcome to call me--within reasonable hours--and I’ll help bridge the gap for you.”
Regarding their location, he noted some of their senior vendors enjoy setting up with a roof over their heads and being able to have shade.
“We have a lot of senior customers, too, who enjoy visiting our market,” he said. “And we welcome each and every one to return this year, as well as new customers.”

Glad to
have two markets
Regarding the other farmers market operating on the Hamilton Walking Track, Marchbanks said he’s excited for shoppers who are seeking locally-grown produce to have more options.
“We’re glad there will be two different farmers markets,” he said. “We think our area is big enough to support two farmers markets, and we are not competing.
“We are all just wanting to make more fresh, delicious, healthy foods available to Hamilton and the surrounding areas.”

Manager is
also a grower
Besides being the manager of the farmers market for the last six years, Marchbanks has also been a vendor for nearly 15 years. He’s also raised berries for more than 30 years.
“I mainly raise blueberries for their antioxidant properties,” he said. “I’ve also grown strawberries, nectarines and figs.”
Marchbanks raises specific types of blueberries with a higher Brix level, for a sweeter taste.
“Some people don’t like berries because of their tartness and acidity,” he said. “But I’m always happy to change a person’s mind. My blueberries are unique, and they taste great. They’re a different flavor from what you’re usually accustomed to with blueberries. They’re more like eating a plum. And they’re really good for you.
“All our farmers market goods really play into the narrative of those trying to be athletic and healthy.”

Check Facebook for
up-to-date offerings
Since he is also a grower and vendor, and a busy manager during operational hours, Marchbanks requests that persons check the Marion County Farmers Market Facebook page when trying to determine what items are being offered on specific days.
For more information on becoming a vendor, interested persons can contact Marchbanks at 205-712-4866.

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