You may not have grown that salad yourself but you’ll always know what’s on your plate when you purchase fresh produce and other locally-made items from the Countryside Conservancy Farmers’ Markets.
With locations in Highland Square, Howe Meadow and Old Trail, the Countryside Conservancy’s producers-only farmers’ markets cover all the bases with fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, home baked treats and a social atmosphere that has allowed home cooks and area farmers to exchange in a food-friendly dialogue for the past decade.
“The farmers’ market is an amazing environment in which you see a huge age-span, little kids walking through with their parents and grandparents,” says Heather Roszczyk, the conservancy’s education and marketing manager. “Everyone’s happy to be there.”
The market’s items are kept local, which means more money stays within our communities rather than allowing dollars to float into national-chain grocery stores. With that in mind, customers can have more say as to what’s in their food. Plus, Roszczyk says, there are no secrets in freshness.
“I love that people get that access to the fresh local food,” she says. “No one can be in a bad mood at a farmers’ market.”
The conservancy also offers Countryside U classes where people can discover canning techniques, collect recipes for making homemade bread, get advice on starting their first vegetable garden or learn from experts whether the farming lifestyle is right for them.
Another event, the conservancy’s monthly “food swap” — which began last year — allows community members to meet and exchange homemade products, whether it’s chocolate chip cookies or homegrown tomatoes.
Countryside Conservancy began in 1999 as a nonprofit to assist the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in the creation of the Countryside Initiative program. Today, the initiative includes 10 farms that are committed to sustainable agriculture.