Farmers’ Market offers fresh food for all

Jessica Sprowl

Through rain and shine, Kent residents come out to enjoy locally grown, organic produce before season ends Saturday

Farmers’ markets are a great source for fresh fruits and vegetables. This farmers’ market, located on Main Street, sells pumpkins, peppers, onions, tomatoes and more. KATIE ROUPE | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Steve Schirra

The aroma of warm apple cider lightly scents the brisk, morning air. Pumpkin patches seem to have sprung up overnight, scattered among maroon, gold, rose and white mums.

Saturday mornings on Franklin Avenue are a far cry from the bar-hopping atmosphere usually found the night before.

Every Saturday from mid-June until the end of October, the city of Kent holds the Haymaker Farmers’ Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Kent residents can enjoy a peaceful and sociable morning shopping for locally grown produce and locally made products. There is a wide selection of vegetables, homemade jams and jellies, all-natural teas, soaps, breads and candies for sale.

“This really encourages local farmers to continue growing, and it encourages a sense of community,” said Fritz Seefeldt, manager of Haymaker Farmers’ Market.

Seefeldt, a massage therapist, and his friend, Rick Hawksley, an architect, started the non-profit organization in 1992, making this year its 14th season.

“We are always looking for more volunteers to help put up signs and hand out fliers,” Seefeldt said.

The market, which started with only four farmers, hit its peak last year with 24 vendors, Seefeldt said.

For the most part, Seefeldt encourages vendors to sell all-organic produce and all-natural products.

At Richard DiRienzo’s booth, one can find varieties of homegrown garlic from 75 cents to $2 and winter squash from $1 and up, depending on the size.

DiRienzo, who learned about farming from his father, has been selling his produce at the Haymaker Farmers’ Market for two years.

“It’s a good place to get fresh, locally grown produce,” he said. “I find people get used to coming down here.”

A little farther down the line of vendors is Wendelin Taylor and Marilyn Tyger’s booth.

Taylor makes an assortment of all-natural jams and jellies.

“This is our first year here,” Taylor said. “We really enjoy it here. Our products are well received. The tomato butter flies off the shelf. It’s almost like apple butter, but made with tomatoes, and vinegar is added.”

Taylor creates her own fruit infusions for her wine jellies, such as raspberry champagne, and her favorite, Merlot. She also tries to use locally grown produce and has even used the produce from the market in her products.

Tyger sells her all-natural soap in the same booth as Taylor.

Tyger has been making soap for about four years. She said it takes about four weeks to make.

“I harvest some of my own herbs for my soaps,” Tyger said.

Green tea, cucumber, goat milk, herb and garden, and rosemary lemonade are just some of the soaps Tyger crafts. Rosemary lemonade has been her most popular soap recently, she said.

Kathy Lessman can be found completely surrounded by bags of apples, pears, tomatoes and a variety of other all-organic produce.

“Everything we do is all-natural,” Lessman said. “We use all-natural chemicals.”

It is Lessman’s first year selling her produce at the Haymaker Farmers’ Market. Last year, she and her family took part in the Twinsburg Farmers’ Market.

“Everyone seems to come out in the rain here. People in Twinsburg didn’t,” Lessman said. “I love seeing the same people every week. I love talking to all the people.”

One vendor, Rafael Rodriguez, who came to the United States about 25 years ago from Spain and currently works for Delphi, sells his homemade breads for one reason:

“I started making bread because I don’t like American bread,” Rodriguez said. “I had to make my own bread.”

Rodriguez now makes 50 to 60 loaves of bread, which sell for $2 to $2.50, and said he usually sells out every week. His most popular is his wheat bread.

“I grow my own wheat, and I bake it in my own kitchen,” he said.

This is Rodriguez’s first whole year at the Haymakers Farmers’ Market, and he said it is getting better and better.

“It’s always the same people,” he said. “We are all friends here.”

This Saturday will be the last time Haymakers Farmer’s Market will be open this season, so don’t miss it.

“It’s a joy seeing our farmers selling their beautiful produce and breads on a crisp early fall morning,” Seefeldt said.

Contact features correspondent Jessica Sprowl at [email protected].