It's nearly harvest season in West Virginia, and the Philippi Garden Market looks like it, with plenty of produce available to its customers. But it's not only the vegetables that are growing, it's also the store itself, thanks to almost $75,000 in grant money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, something market staff said will help them expand their outreach.
"Those funds from the USDA and other funding sources are just critical. We couldn't do it without those folks. It really is a community project, it's not just us, but there's a lot of players in this. We have a lot of supporters and folks that have been willing to step up and help us," said Brenda Hunt, executive director of Heart and Hand House, the organization that operates the market.
A large portion of that money will go to install a café in the market that will not only serve healthy food, but also use the local produce available in the market to highlight the work of area farmers, something Hunt said isn't easy to find.
"It's just a little bit different than maybe what you would find elsewhere. You'll know the people providing your lunch or breakfast. You'll know the farmer that grows your food, and maybe even meet them here," said Hunt.
Hunt said the upgrade will go a long way to keeping the new outreach going strong, but it's not simply a money-maker for the group. She said a market like theirs can support and improve the community in many different ways.
"We just think this program is so important in this community to support local agriculture and promote the use of local foods in the community for health reasons but also economic reasons in the community," said Hunt.