Gardeners invited to participate in Noble market

NGM buyers and sellers in 2019. [photo by Karen Knittle]

As backyard and community garden growers order seeds and otherwise plan their gardens this winter, Noble Gardeners’ Market (NGM) urges them to consider growing extra to sell at its market this summer.

NGM will assemble on Saturday mornings, 10 a.m. to noon, Aug. 1 through Sept. 19. The market site is a mini-park at the corner of Noble and Roanoke roads in Cleveland Heights, one block north of Monticello Boulevard. Sellers are welcome to participate on any or all of the market days, free of charge.

NGM welcomes folks who sell fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers that they grow in backyards and community gardens. Sellers do not need to be Cleveland Heights residents, but they may not be market farmers. (NGM encourages people to support local farmers at the numerous farmers' markets in the area, and in grocery stores that source locally.) They also need not commit to coming every Saturday.

Sellers will be asked to sign in, to declare where they grew their fruits, vegetables and flowers. Sellers are not charged for space, but must provide their own chair, and a table or ground cloth for displaying their products. Sellers must also be able to make change for customers. Water and electricity are not available at the market site.

Only fresh produce, flowers and plants may be sold, as the market is not licensed for selling processed food.

Last year was NGM’s first full August to September season, with 19 sellers participating, though never all on the same Saturday. Buyers learned to talk to the sellers who had the items they most desired, to find out when they next would be available, and arrived early for unique items, such as shiitake mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes or hot peppers, as these often sold out.

Tomatoes, peppers, summer squash and garlic sold well and were the most abundant items at the 2019 market. Buyers were pleasantly surprised to find specialty items and asked for more. Berries, carrots, beans, corn and potatoes were among the buyers' requests.

Growers are encouraged to consider planting a wide variety of vegetables and fruits. As this is a community-based gardeners' market, potential sellers can be assured that no backyard grower will have bushels of produce to sell, and last year some had only a half dozen tomatoes or peppers. It isn't the volume of produce, it's the community aspect that makes this market so special.

Buyers were also delighted to find cut flowers in bouquets large and small. Perennials and other garden plants were other sought-after items, and buyers were grateful to talk with sellers about planting conditions and blooming schedules. Some sellers brought photos, which helped buyers imagine blooms that were not in season. Houseplants were also among the products sellers offered.

Perhaps the most delightful feature of NGM is the opportunity to form friendships around mutual interests—growing and cooking with fresh fruits and vegetables, and enjoying flowers and plants. As one participant said, "People came to the market for veggies, but stayed for the conversations."

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Brenda H. May

Brenda H. May is one of the leaders of Noble Neighbors.

Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 3:27 PM, 02.27.2020