River valley farmers market opens

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MEXICO — The opportunity to purchase fresh, locally grown produce in the River Valley has blossomed with the opening of the River Valley Farmers Market on Friday.

The market is in the Labonville parking lot on Route 2 and provides much more than organic fresh vegetables grown at farms in Andover, Bryant Pond, Dixfield, Mexico, Peru and Rumford. It also sells a variety of fresh berries, fresh brown eggs, locally grown fruits, breads, rolls, jams, pies, flowers, plants, maple syrup and Peru-raised Black Angus natural beef.

This is the market’s third season, and there were six local vendors setting up shop on tables beneath canopy tents Friday.

“We began this farmers market three years ago,” said Gail Cutting, who with her husband, Carl, run Grandma’s House Bakery and Gardens at 309 Roxbury Road in Mexico “to provide our neighbors with fresh, clean, organic, locally owned food.”

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The Cuttings, who served as missionaries in Africa for years, tout the advantages of organically grown local vegetables. “The vegetables and produce at this market are free of  hormones, pesticides and being radiated,” she said, “unlike what is often sold at the big box stores and large supermarket chains.”

 “Most of our sales come from residents of the River Valley,” Cutting said. “We occasionally have travelers from away, like some folks from Canada who shopped here last year. They are the gravy to our business.”

The Cuttings sell more than vegetables. They had tables with fresh-baked, pies, baked delicacies, jams and jellies they made.

In a neighboring booth, Stan Haynes of Clay Hill Farm in Peru was selling natural Black Angus  beef raised on his farm. He hopes to offer vegetables from his garden, as well as fresh eggs, poultry, strawberries and blueberries.

Besides the health advantage inherent in buying fresh, organically grown produce, there are significant benefits to the Maine economy in buying local. The state’s 6,000-plus farms contribute $1.2 billion annually to the economy.

The River Valley Farmers Market is open Fridays from 10 a.m to 3 p.m. from May 27 to Oct. 14. For more information, contact Jessica Roy at 357-1304.

dfayen@sunjournal.com

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