Shop sign at the Grower’s Market. Photograph by Kristine Kearns.
For months, I have yearned to spend my mornings walking into the town of West Chester and going to local farmers markets. I adore the idea of giving back directly to the community and going green in my daily routines with a little more control over where my food comes from. Recently, that time has arrived. For my first couple weekends living in the area so far, I have spent almost every Saturday morning at the West Chester Growers Market either accompanied by a friend or flying solo; admiring fine fruits, vegetables and buying some food for my own consumption.
Located at the corner of North Church Street and West Chestnut Street, the market is a vibrant spot to walk up and down an open-air aisle. I find myself gazing at homemade bread loaves, barrels of fresh produce, jars of local honey or spices and paper-wrapped flower bouquets each time I go. The market is open from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. every Saturday from May through December. When it is not the general growing season, their hours are listed as the first, third & fifth Saturdays from January through April at 10 a.m.–12 p.m.
On top of holding convenient hours and enough space to shop around, the market helps the earth in major ways. Shopping at local farmers markets is environmentally beneficial for our local ecosystems. For example, there is a term coined by Barbara Kingsolver called “locavore.” A “locavore” refers to someone who sources their food — nearly every ingredient — as close to their local town as possible. This decreases a person’s personal carbon footprint by consuming the produce less traveled.
Generally, major grocery stores, especially chains, get their produce and food products from regions across the country and countries outside the U.S, requiring major transportation costs that hurt the planet and deprive the food of its initial quality.
By choosing to eat locally-grown fruit and vegetables, the small-business vendors continue to do good to the earth by growing and providing more of their own produce. Thankfully, local growers usually grow crops without utilizing methods of industrial agriculture which include pesticides and other questionable chemical processes that we would rarely think about when picking up vegetables at a grocery store.
From Rose’s Gluten Free Bakery providing individually-wrapped baked goods, to Applied Climatology LLC laying out tall plants, buyers can take a look at anything from sweet treats to home garden additions. I thoroughly enjoy buying nectarines in my reusable cotton bags, as well as a loaf of sourdough to keep in my dorm room. For students who live in apartments and want to check out the assortment of produce, oils and spices, there are several Growers Market stands to fill up a kitchen…including a perfect opportunity and the inspiration to begin cooking.
Table of products at the Grower’s Market. Photograph by Kristine Kearns.
In a busy place like West Chester, the town has sustainability initiatives scattered everywhere. It is not hard for me to spot at least a few recycling bins painted with eco-inspired quotes and artwork, working to keep West Chester clean and green. With the help of the Growers Market, the town strays away from a busy, littered-city atmosphere because of the surrounding open greenery. Since most of the market produce is grown closely and locally, the general area works with nature to feed its people rather than work against it.
Drastically different, grocery stores are sometimes not available near more dense populations — areas called food deserts — which cut the general community off from accessing produce if they do not grow their own. Therefore, people are expected to emit more carbon in order to travel to the already well-traveled food.
Depending on what week it is, some vendors show up on select Saturdays. On West Chester Growers Market’s website, they also feature written blog posts to browse spotlights of sellers’ important and interesting background information. Alongside this blog spot, the website features a weekly newsletter sign-up available so people can always be kept in the loop.
Whether you are a frequent member living in the middle of West Chester, or an out-of-town visitor looking to tour the town, the West Chester Growers Market provides an enlightening source of produce and other homemade items crafted with care. I recommend bringing a reusable tote bag to carry purchased-produce in. This is an extra environmentally beneficial action because bringing personal storage bags helps everyone to avoid the waste of plastic bags, which ultimately fall into landfills. It is such a sweet experience to enjoy a sunny walk into town carrying cotton produce bags, feel closer to nature, and find nutritious foods and community all at once. I swear, there is no place I would rather be spending my Saturday mornings at than on a trip to the Growers Market.
Kristine Kearns is a second-year English Writings major with minors in Creative Writing and Sustainability. KK947319@wcupa.edu