Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Guide promotes Ohio farmers' markets

The Associated Press

        LEBANON — Don Spaeth said his sweet corn and tomatoes practically sell themselves because they're so good. But getting his market listed in the latest Ohio Farmers Market Directory may mean even more business.

        Mr. Spaeth, 72, said he normally advertises in local newspapers. “Of course, we have a sign by the road letting people know we have produce for sale, too,” he said.

        The Ohio Agriculture Department's 2001 directory is a county-by-county listing of more than 600 markets located throughout the state. Ohioans looking for homegrown produce can also look for the Ohio Proud logo at farmers' markets. The label means that the market sells produce or farm products that are at least 50 percent grown or processed in Ohio.

        The directory lists the location, telephone number, hours and days of operation and products available from each farmers' market. Listed vendors sell more than 35 varieties of fruits and vegetables.

        Farmers pay $100 a year to display the Ohio Proud logo.

        The directory is part of the state's domestic effort to promote Ohio agriculture, state Agriculture Department spokeswoman Liana Lee said.

        The department tried to include every farm market in the area, but is not aware of all of them, Ms. Lee said. As more farmers become aware of the free advertising through the directory, the list grows bigger — from 100 pages the first year to 164 pages in 2001.

        “Ohio consumers are really looking for local farms to buy produce,” Ms. Lee said. “And they want to know where (their) food is coming from.”

        The directory is funded with tax money and is available free to anyone who calls or e-mails the state to ask for a copy. The directory classifies each market as a farm market, where the products are available at the farm that grew or processed them, or a farmers' market. At a farmers' market, farmers gather at a central location to offer a variety of fresh produce.

        Ohio ranks among the nation's top producers of celery, sweet corn, tomatoes, grapes, apples and strawberries.


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