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Zelie-Harmony Farmer’s Market gathers local businesses together

With a smile on his face, Wayne Otto, 90, pays Jeremy Haffey, 40, of Haffey Valley Farm for a quart of strawberries at the Zelienople-Harmony Farmers Market at Zelienople Community Park. The farm market is Mondays, starting at 3:30, through the summer. Cary Shaffer/Butler Eagle

ZELIENOPLE -- Despite the rain, local businesses still filled the parking lot at the Zelienople Community Park on Monday afternoon for the weekly Zelienople-Harmony Farmers’ Market.

The event, which runs Mondays 3:30-7 p.m. until October, brings farmers and shops from Butler County and nearby counties together to sell fresh fruit, vegetables, coffee, and other products to visitors.

“We do mostly vegetables, but we do grow cantaloupes, watermelon, some blackberries, and things like that. But mostly it’s the produce and the veggies,” said Jeremy Haffey of Haffey Family Farm in Ohioville. “We have quite a few people who come back every week, even if it’s raining.”

Visitors and customers started to trickle in Monday as the afternoon wore on and the rain slowed down.

“It’s one of our slower markets, compared to some of the ones we go to closer to Pittsburgh,” Haffey said. “In the fall, it gets a lot busier because everybody’s done with their gardens. A lot of people here are growing the same stuff that we’re selling, so it’s slow until their gardens are done.”

Fresh and local vegetables and berries available at the Zelienople-Harmony Farmers Market at Zelienople Community Park. The farm market runs Mondays, starting at 3:30. Cary Shaffer/Butler Eagle

John and Mary Musko of Awesome Acres in Butler who stood with a display of preserves and jams said that this year was off to a slower start.

“Only half the vendors showed up today, I’m assuming because of the rain,” John Musko said.

On a better day, he usually sees upward of 30 vendors; Monday’s market had about a dozen stands. Travel costs have posed a problem for some vendors, Mary Musko said.

“Some of the vendors have chosen to do it every other week, with the big vehicles,” Mary Musko said. “There’s definitely an impact for the bigger vendors with big vehicles, trucks and so forth for traveling.”

Meaza Tesfahun, who runs the Delina’s EthioCafe coffee trailer, said gas prices have affectedher business in recent months. A resident of Cranberry Township, she also attends the Cranberry Farmers’ Market on Fridays and has changed from using a generator to plugging her trailer equipment into an electrical outlet to save gas costs.

“I used to have a generator before, but now, I can just run one machine,” she said, adding that she doesn’t have to use as many machines in the summer because people tend to prefer cold coffee. “Thankfully, we have electric here.”

Luke Chambers, who runs Luke’s Sweet Gold Honey out of Evans City, is one vendor who attends every other week. On days when it doesn’t rain, he said, he sometimes brings his observation hive to the market to introduce customers to his bees that produce the honey.

“At Butler on Saturday, I sold all my honey — everything I had brought,” he said. “People appreciate me for what I’m doing because I’m providing a raw, local product to them.”

Shoppers peruse the fresh vegetables and goods at the Zelienople-Harmony Farmers Market at Zelienople Community Park. Mondays through the summer, local farms and business sell directly to the public at the park. Cary Shaffer/Butler Eagle