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“A well-established farmers market is an asset many towns would love to have,” says West Chester Growers Market board president Michael Ahlert. He attributes the success of the market, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary season, to diverse, high-quality products from professional vendors and to many faithful customers.
Michael has been bringing his Red Earth Farm produce to the market for 20 years. “It’s easier for people to get farm-fresh products now than it was 10 or 15 years ago,” he says. But there’s still something unique, as the market tagline says, about “shaking the hand that feeds you.”
The market has become part of the social fabric of the community.
“It’s fitting that West Chester, the county seat in the middle of some of the best farmland in the world, hosts a market that helps to preserve the land and culture of working farms,” Michael says. With fresh produce, meat, and cheeses, as well as baked goods and other ready-to-eat options from a core of thirty-plus vendors, “customers barely need to go to the grocery store,” he says.
Four of the families who started the market are still involved, including Paul Hauser, who ran the market for many years. “They picked a good town,” Michael says, “with the right demographic and a densely-populated town center.” Thoughtful, sustainable growth—matching vendors with customers’ needs and providing the best variety of local products at reasonable prices—is another reason for the market’s longevity.
Michael says the goal of the 25th anniversary season, including a special celebration on July 20th, “is to highlight this unique and successful partnership between the Borough and this community-building event we create every Saturday.”