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Farmers’ Market returns Saturday

The Suffolk Farmers’ Market is almost back for the summer.

The new market season kicks off on Saturday, offering fresh, locally-grown foods, hand-crafted goods and more. The market will operate rain or shine on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Wednesdays from 3 to 6 p.m. through September.

“Farmers’ markets are about community,” said tourism director Lynette White. “They serve as a connection between our local farmers, our residents and our visitors.”

The market’s opening day on Saturday will include a cow, goat, pony, chickens and other farm animals for children to learn up close about the animals. The first 50 patrons will receive a free “Virginia Grown” tote bag with coloring books for children.

The farming community is important in Suffolk, even though the city becomes increasingly developed, White said.

“We still have a major agriculture industry here,” she said, referring to about 1,155 farms including 59,000 acres of agriculture production. “The farmers’ market is an outlet for some of the local produce that’s grown here.”

Opening day will include vendors from Acorn Hill Farms Produce, Adams Seafood, B and H Produce, Apron Strings, James Bielmann Photography, Farm Chicks, Munden flowers and jewelry, the Noriega Farm, the Teeny Tiny Farm and the White Farm. In addition, the Western Tidewater Health District will provide information on available services, as well as blood pressure screenings, and Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia will provide information on their available services.

White said there still are spaces for season-long vendors to sign up.

The Suffolk market also will participate in the 2010 Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program July 1 through Nov. 15. The program provides coupons for low-income seniors to buy fresh, unprepared foods at farmers’ markets, roadside stands and community-supported agriculture programs.

The Suffolk farmers’ market is sponsored in part by the Obici Health Care Foundation. For vending information, call the Suffolk Visitor Center at 514-4130. Market Park is located at the intersection of North Main and Prentis streets in downtown, across from the Suffolk Seaboard Station Railroad Museum.