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EDITOR'S NOTE: So many people in Ironton told us it was such a shame that we were there on a Wednesday, and not on a market day. So we popped back into town early on Saturday, June 8, to see what all the fuss was about. We were not disappointed!

For the last seven years, Cathy Knipp has been sharing her produce - and her experience - with others at the Ironton Farmers' Market.

Set up under the awning across from her sister, she sells fresh fruits and vegetables, with each container of produce thoughtfully placed and displayed in reusable containers.

A customer approaches, eyeing a bushel of Knipp's South Carolina peaches.

"Can I help you, hun?" she asks with a smile.

"Yes, I'd like to get a basket of peaches," the customer replies. "Will these make a good pie?"

"Yeah, they do, hun," Knipp answers as she gently removes the peaches and places them in a bag.

They exchange goods and Knipp rearranges her produce display.

"I've been gardening since I was about 7 or 8, and I'm 50 now," she says.

Knipp says working each Friday and Saturday at the farmer's market has given her chances to share her recipes and advice on cooking the produce to countless members of her community.

"You get to tell them how to use their produce," she says. "Like half-runners, a lot of people may not know how to clean them or string them. I'll tell them to get some bacon and seasoning and salt for their pressure cooker or crockpot, and it makes it easy [for them]."

Knipp says her biggest sellers in the early summer are her homegrown green tomatoes, often used for fried green tomatoes, half-runner beans and potatoes. For fruit, it's the southern peaches and her strawberries.

"We typically sell out," she says. "If you don't get here early, you miss out."

After a lifetime of gardening and preserving goods, she says she's grateful for the opportunity to give back to the community and offer a selection of healthy items.

"We appreciate all of our customers and enjoy seeing them every year," Knipp says. "You get really close with a lot of them, and they're like family. I have a lot of customers who just come and see me. It's always good."

The market is open from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. - or sold out - every Friday and Saturday through the end of October. It is located at Market Square in downtown Ironton.

The Ironton Farmers Market is a project of Ironton aLive and sponsored by Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital.


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