A prospective customer questions a farm market vendor about herb seedlings

Wednesday was opening day for the Adams County Farmers Market Association. Nearly a dozen vendors, representing growers from around the county, set up their tents at the Gettysburg Rec Park.

There is nothing tastier than fresh stuff on the dinner table. Place two dishes of lettuce on the table, one from the grocery store plastic bag produce section and one from the farm market, then chomp into a sample from each. I’m betting nearly anyone can pick out the leaves picked this morning.

For most of us, a fresh, tasty selection of food simply means remembering when the market most convenient to us is open, such as 2:30 -to-7 p.m. Wednesdays at the Rec Park or Fridays and Saturdays at the Outlet Shoppes at Gettysburg. (Check the end of this post for the times.)

Among the producers this week was Martha Hoff, owner of Five Points Farm Market Greenhouse, in York Springs, offers an early selection of  tomato, mint, chives, cauliflower, lettuce  and other plants ready to grown fresh palate-pleasers for market patrons. Other producers offered flowers (it was only four days from Mothers Day!), harvested fruits and vegetables and baked goods.

New this year is a program intended to attract food stamp users to the nutritious cornucopia of fresh vegetables, fruit, eggs and meat. The markets accept EBT cards – debit cards on which the recipient receives the monthly financial assistance – of what now is called SNAP – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Federal guidelines allow the cards to be used to purchase produce at the farmers markets.

“They can’t buy flowers,” said association President Kathy Glahn, “but they can buy seedlings to grow food.”

To enhance the offer, the association has created a Double Your Dollars program. SNAP participants may use their cards to purchase tokens at the market, and with the tokens purchase $2 in produce for every $1 token.

Ability to process the SNAP debit cards helps the farmers markets “connect the benefits of better food,” Glahn noted.

Also, although some vendors have their own credit/debit card readers, debit card users also may purchase tokens for use at any of the vendor tents.

“This summer we could use volunteers to help with some of our programs,” she said.

The help would be in providing on-site cooking demonstrations, educating kids about eating healthy farm fresh food, or even playing music, helping enhance the family atmosphere that just isn’t part of a bricks and mortar grocery store.

Market organizers plan by June to be offering dietary education and demonstrations in preparation of produce for residents who would like to try fresh produce, but do not know how to prepare it.

“A love of good local food,” Glahn said, “that’s a requirement of being a volunteer.

The Rec Park market will be open very Wednesday, 2:30-7:00 through mid October.

A Saturday market will open beginning May 7, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. at The Outlet Shoppes at Gettysburg, on Baltimore Pike near U.S. 15. The market, positioned between TGI Friday and the highway, is easily visible from northbound 15 and from the access road leading to the outlets’ main artery.

The Outlet Shoppes also will host a Friday market beginning May 27, 9:30 a.m.–2 p.m.

The Saturday morning Farmers Market on Gettysburg’s Lincoln Square will continue, but independent of the Adams County Farmers Markets Association.

The association may be found on Facebook at “Adams County Farm Fresh Markets,” and on its own website at www.acfarmersmarkets.org

Stop by their online sites, tell them you saw them here, and then head for the market for some really delicious food.