Barbour County residents and growers gathered in Philippi Friday morning for the grand opening of the new Market Place, run by Heart and Hand Ministries. The new location is providing opportunities for the market, and room to grow, which is something it needs since it's more popular now than ever before.
"The Garden Market has grown by leaps and bounds in the past couple years. We use to have an average of eighty to eighty-five growers over the course of the year. This year we're now well over a hundred. We're up to like a hundred and thirty some growers and producers that bring things to the market," said Brenda Hunt, executive director of Heart and Hand House.
New technology coming to the area is partly responsible for the growth. Thanks to tools like high tunnels, growers, like Jeff Sickler who operates a farm near Philippi, can grow their crops and their profits all year long.
"With these high tunnels, we're able to extend the season, and grow throughout the winter. We'll be harvesting romaine lettuce probably in January and February, so that's pretty impressive," said Sickler.
Hunt said grants are available for farmers interested in adding high tunnels to their property, and having the resources available to grow longer can provide a way for families to make more money.
"That's an income opportunity in an area where employment is very short and folks sometimes don't feel they have a lot of opportunity, maybe this is another way they can help support their family. There's so many ways that this could help the community," said Hunt.
For more information on Heart and Hand House, check out their website here.