If you love the idea of being able to pick fresh vegetables from your backyard and serve them at your dinner table, then you’ll enjoy attending the 2nd-Annual Martinsburg Farmers Market Farm to Fork event set for September 23, from 5-7pm, in Martinsburg’s Town Square—a community festival filled with fresh produce and local music.

The dinner represents a fundraiser for the market to increase appreciation, awareness, and opportunity for local food and agriculture. This year’s proceeds will be used to help get a farm-to-school program established. The objective is to have food grown in the downtown Martinsburg Promise Garden as well as downtown schools, with the hope of getting kids involved in growing things.

Many of the ingredients are purchased from the Martinsburg Farmers Market vendors. The downtown restaurants, James Rumsey Culinary Arts program, and other vendors will create a piece of the meal. Attendees can mingle with wine and appetizers before sitting down to a three-course dinner served by volunteers. There will be music and a raffle and wine from a local Virginia winery for purchase.

James Hersick, director of the local food initiative committee of Healthy Berkeley, will coordinate the event. He explained how both the Martinsburg Farmers Market and the Farm to Fork Dinner are early in their evolution but have grown and built a loyal following.

“The dinner exceeded all of our dreams last year, and we are very excited to be able to share it with more folks this year. The market is coming along. We are building a customer base and expanding our vendors.

“We moved the market for our original location in front of the library. We’re now on King Street beside the town square, and that gives us a lot of space to grow, as well as combines the market with the Friday’s at Five summer concerts for much of the season. Together, they create an awesome community festival atmosphere on Friday evenings.”

Hersick added that he thinks gatherings like this truly have a place in today’s world. “Food always matters. Local food is making a comeback. It has to. It’s a win-win for everyone. When you shop local, you get more for your money. Food harvested that day has much more nutritional value in it. When you buy from a local farmer, that money stays here.”

Dana DeJarnett, health promotion coordinator at the Berkeley Medical Center and chair of Healthy Berkeley, talked about what local food initiatives this fundraiser will support.

“The dinner supports the farmers market and the community garden. The community garden is a partnership with the Promise Neighborhood Initiative and WVU Medicine Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Health,” she said. “The goal of the garden is to provide fresh produce to the downtown area residents.”

Anyone wishing to support this event can purchase a ticket by contacting DeJarnett at Healthy Berkeley, 304-264-1287, ext. 31814; Randy Lewis at Main Street Martinsburg, 304-262-4200; or James Hersick at the Farmers Market, 240-446-4495. Folks can also volunteer or donate if unable to attend the event.

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