Fast-stop farmers market set in Jefferson County
By Michelle Horst
BARDANE -- When Shepherd Ogden was a child, a farmer would load his truck with fresh vegetables and drive down South Samuel Street in Charles Town selling his produce to locals.
"He would come down and beep and people would come out and buy vegetables from him," Ogden said. "But all that went away 20 or 30 years ago when we got the big-box stores and supermarkets."
Ogden, the agricultural officer for the Jefferson County Development Authority, has taken this concept and merged it with the idea of farmers markets.
He is doing by taking away the festival-like atmosphere, the music and stripping the farmers market down to its core -- the vegetables.
The county is now in a situation where more than half of its working population leaves each day and goes elsewhere to work, Ogden said. This causes a problem in the local food systems, because many commuters choose to stop at supermarkets, Walmart or fast food places for dinner.
Ogden, who is on the board for the Charles Town Farmers Market, took that original idea and springboarded it into the concept of a fast-stop farmers market that will open at The Black Dog Coffee Company in Bardane.
"We are looking at how to get the farmers connected back to the local residents," Ogden said. "The next step of penetrating this problem is setting up places where people can buy fresh, local food that's extremely convenient to their commute."
He said this will allow the local food market to see if some of the food dollars lost to the convenient factor of fast food and supermarkets can be regained by making local food quick and convenient to those passing through and headed home with an empty stomach.
"It's still pretty new," said Fiona Harrison, board member of the Charles Town Farmers Market.
Harrison said several other farmers had expressed an interest in participating in the Bardane market.
"Get them some fresh, local food and get them on their way," Ogden said.
Brian Bircher, who owns The Black Dog Coffee Company, is also on the board of the Charles Town Farmers' Market. Ogden said Bircher sells local food to patrons throughout the year. The Wednesday markets will be held in his parking lot, which Ogden said can clearly and easily be seen and accessed from W.Va. 9, and will be open from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m.
Instead of stretching the concept forward, Ogden said he is trying to take the concept of the farmers market back to the time when the farmer in the vegetable truck drove around Charles Town.
Harrison said an end date for the market has not been set, although the goal would be to keep it up and running through October.
"We are trying to bring the food back to the communities and back to the places where people really are, so they have a choice that they had before, and sort of let slide because life became much busier," Ogden said.