Since opening in July 2012 the farmers market in downtown Huntington has injected nearly $350,000 back into the Huntington community.
Charles Barton sells organic lamb meat at the Wild Ramp local foods market in downtown Huntington. The farmer from Bakerton, West Virginia in the Eastern Panhandle is the perfect example of why the small market has succeeded.
“They were looking for people to join in and I was looking for a market I could be comfortable with and besides it gets me home more, Huntington is my home,” Barton said.
From July 2012, when the market opened, to December 2013, the market has paid more than 345 thousand dollars to a total of 121 farmers and producers. Shelly Keeney is the Market Manager.
Keeney said they have been surprised at how a small idea has turned into something that so many in the area depend on for locally grown food. She said they didn’t expect it.
“What surprises me is the amount of customer support, not just customers coming in buying product, but the business support we’ve gotten from businesses that surround us and now we have the attention of the agriculture department as well because it’s gone really well,” Keeney said.
It’s that support from city of Huntington officials and the West Virginia Department of Agriculture--- and the need for more space-- that made the Wild Ramps want to expand. After having their bid selected by the city to take over the Central City Market in Huntington’s west end, the market is preparing for a spring move that will provide much more space than they are used to. Gail Patton is the President of the Board of Directors for the Market.
“We have outgrown this space very quickly, we actually outgrew it a year ago and have been thinking about moving for a while now and we decided to go for it and see if we could get a bigger building with better access,” Patton said.
The larger space in the Central City market will allow them to work with farmers on techniques for season extension so they can produce more into the cold months and will allow for others things such as classes.
“One of the big ones is we’ll be able to have classes right in the store, we’ll be able to have cooking demonstrations and cooking classes, we’ll be able to have gardening classes out behind the building and we’ll be able to expand what we can do onsite, now we’re having those classes, but always having to find somewhere to have them,” Patton said.
Patton says with the support they have from the community the move will work.