Farmer markets coming soon to Ravenna next year

Simon Husted

Ravenna’s sole “food desert” might have two farmers markets pop up next year.

Robinson Memorial Hospital finished a four-week farmers market trial Thursday. Their market featured more than a half dozen venders selling goods including produce, jam, coffee beans and bread. Sandy Haskell, director of volunteer services and community relations at Robinson Memorial, said the hospital will continue hosting a farmers market season every year.

“We’re hoping to expand it and do more than four weeks next year because the response from our employees and the community has been very positive,” Haskell said.

Meanwhile the city is looking into winning a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to start up an annual farmer’s market season at a city-owned parking lot at the corner of Locus Lane and Meridian Street. However, all of the details to the city’s proposed farmers market are subject to changes, said Kerry Macomber, the city’s director of economic development. The two markets could possibly merge, Macomber said.

The grant application is only possible because the proposed farmers market is located inside the city’s only “food desert.”

The USDA’s website defines a “food desert” as a low-income community “where a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store.”

Three food deserts are located in Portage County—two in Kent and one in Ravenna.

Macomber applied for the two-year $100,000 grant in July to aid the community downtown and expects to learn whether the city will receive the grant by the end of the month.

The $100,000 will pay more than supplies and the curator’s stipend. The money will also finance healthy eating workshops taught by educators from Ohio State University Extension Office.

“They’ll do (the workshops) four times during the farmers market so as people are going through, they’re welcomed to stop in and pick up some knowledge and tips and helpful ideas,” Macomber said.

Contact Simon Husted at [email protected]