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Newly renovated Inwood Farmers' Market open for business

July 23, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

INWOOD, W.Va. -- There are fresh green beans, corn on the cob and West Virginia wine.

Racks are filled with other West Virginia products like salsa, honey, jelly and bread mixes.

There's bison meat and even bison hot dogs.

Hoping to cash in on the growing interest in locally grown food, the state Department of Agriculture on Tuesday unveiled a newly renovated Inwood Farmers' Market off W.Va. 51 in southern Berkeley County.

The market started in the 1960s to provide packaging help to smaller fruit growers, said Steve Miller, executive director of eastern operations for the Department of Agriculture.

Over the years, the market evolved into retail sales, Miller said.

With recent food safety scares across the nation, such as salmonella outbreaks in produce, department officials said they are seeing people turning more to locally grown products in an attempt to find safer food.

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"This is going to be our best year from the produce side," said Miller, adding that produce sales have been up 20 percent at the market this year.

In hopes of building on the trend, the agriculture department has been improving its Inwood market along Pilgrim Street by sprucing up its exterior, putting up new market signs along Interstate 81 and at welcome centers, and adding new lines of merchandise.

The Legislature set aside $200,000 to promote farmers' markets and about $25,000 has been spent on the local market, officials said.

The old white exterior of the market is gone, replaced by a vibrant pink, green and yellow design that even boasts a new name, The Shops at Inwood Farmers' Market.

The agriculture department has scheduled a list of promotions, giveaways and family activities this week to celebrate the new market and state Agriculture Commissioner Gus R. Douglass was at the market Tuesday morning to promote it.

Douglass said healthy food initiatives have been a priority in state government.

"Of course that comes back to locally grown produce. We can provide better selection and a greater selection," Douglass said.

The agriculture department operates the market and anyone can bring produce there to be sold, Miller said. The department receives a small commission from the sale of goods at the market and about 95 producers bring in products,Miller said.

The facility is the only farmers market in the Eastern Panhandle that is open year-round. In the winter, products like apples and winter squash are sold, along with processed foods, officials said.

The market is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

About 4,000 square feet of space are available in the building. Market officials are interested in leasing it to anyone interested in making food products there, or offering crafts or artwork.

For more information, call 304-229-5011.

Some of the activities this week at the market:



Today, Thursday and Friday, product sampling and wine tasting from 3 to 5 p.m. There will be a West Virginia gift basket giveaway each day at 5 p.m.

Saturday: Family Fun Day, noon to 5 p.m., featuring a moon bounce, hay maze, concessions, West Virginia honey vendors on the porch, wine sampling, product sampling and free helium balloons. At 3 p.m., there will be a bee beard demonstration; at 5 p.m., there will be a drawing for a West Virginia gift basket.

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