Monongahela Farmer’s Market Continues to be a Local Favorite | My Valley Magazine
AAs far back as Fred McConn can remember, he has been bringing fresh produce grown on his 50-acre Harden family farm to the Monongahela Farmers Market for about 15 years.
With the help of his wife Sheila, family and friends, he loads his 16-foot truck with everything from cabbage, kale and cabbage to corn, tomatoes, green beans and more.
When he arrives at the market, run by the Mon Area Revitalization Corporation, a 501c3 nonprofit, he sets up a pop-up tent and displays his products.
“While the company has grown over time, this has been the best year ever,” said McConn. “To keep our products as fresh as possible, we pick them within 36 hours of market. “
Ten years ago, he added Chambersburg fruit to his inventory, which includes the region’s highly sought-after peaches, as well as plums and a wide variety of apples. McConn, however, is just one of five farms that have set up a market sales tent in and around Chess Park from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. every Friday. This year’s 16-week season started on June 11 and will end on September 24.
“Our vendors include a mushroom grower and a green micro-farmer, as well as vendors who sell chicken and duck eggs, honey, maple syrup and even goat milk soap,” said Michelle DeHosse, president of Monongahela market. “We have a core of 15 sellers who are with us throughout the summer, but we’ve had up to 28 who come and go throughout the season. “
A new seller this year, Sweets by Mrs. C, abbreviation of Mrs. Claus, serves individual cups of ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, and floats made from retro soda bottles with brands like Red Ribbon, Boylan, and Jones.
Owner Heidi Hoffman runs a physical store a few blocks from the market and has been seen rolling her ice cream cart from her Christmas-themed candy store in Monongahela on market days.
Currently, she uses her vehicle to move her cart with a giant umbrella over it to the Friday event, where she offers between six and ten flavors of ice cream made by Betsy’s of Mt. Lebanon.
“I joined this year because I love being a part of the seller community and hearing all the great live music that is included in the event,” she said. “Business has been better than expected, and I hope to be back next summer with an updated cart.”
For market customers who wish to eat there, several food trucks offer ready-made meals.
According to DeHosse, the Grumpy Mexican has been a popular favorite, as have Forlini’s Italian Kitchen and Noopy’s Sweet Shop, which offers festivals and events the ubiquitous funnel cake.
“Between them all, they give Chess Park a really good aroma,” DeHosse said. “I will often eat my way through the park starting with a sausage sandwich or two steak tacos and a sip of wine from the Winslow winery in Perryopolis and ending with a brownie from Sambol’s Bakery or a funnel cake from Perryopolis. Noopy’s. ”
Besides food, other vendors sell products such as candles, jewelry, laser engraved signs, bath balms, and shower sprays. Nonprofits and charities like the Monongahela-Donora Lions Club, which sells brooms, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Blueprints Early Learning, are allowed to set up for free. However, most commercial sellers pay a variable fee depending on the number of times they participate during the season and the type of seller.
Every Friday at 11 a.m., DeHosse posts a list of suppliers and products on the Marketplace’s Facebook page. Each week, the Mon Valley Academy of the Arts also programs live entertainment, which begins at 4:30 pm On a Friday, the local country radio station Parkway 106 was broadcast live online from Chess Park during the market.
“I want the market to be an event where people come, buy products, dine and listen to the entertainment,” DeHosse said. “We actually have people who come with lawn chairs and sit and listen to music.”
Wanting to touch all the basics, the organizers of the market also offer entertainment for children starting with Whimsy the Fairy, which brings with it a large bubble machine, and Levona, a creator of balloon animal figurines.
“I’m trying to get the market out this season with flying colors and make it an event for the kids,” DeHosse said. “Canine Officer Kris Salzmann will bring a dog, Sammi, from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Monongahela Police will present a new patrol car, and the New Eagle Volunteer Fire Department will bring one of their trucks.” In addition, Monongahela Library will be having an activity for the kids and I will try to organize a few other things to entertain the younger ones.
DeHosse said this year’s turnout has been excellent. In early summer, Harden Farm told him they sold at 5:15 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. The bakery, ice cream parlor, and mushroom producer usually sell out at the end of the day as well, which is why DeHosse advises arriving early to make sure customers get what they want.
Claudia Michalic, a customer who has been a loyal and avid supporter of the market, said she travels to markets in Somerset and Ligonier County to buy organic food for her daughter, who suffers from kidney failure. However, she said the Harden farm was able to provide her with the necessary products, including eggs. When the market is dormant in winter, she uses food bought from Harden Farm at the market which she stores in three freezers that she keeps at home.
In addition to getting the food her daughter needs for her health, Michalic said she was delighted to show up to the market every week, where she got to know the vendors personally.
“Besides being able to buy fresh food, I always see a lot of friendly faces,” she said. “They help make the market a place of community and true brotherhood.