First of growers markets opens |

First of growers markets opens

The first certified growers market of the season has sprouted.

The Grass Valley Certified Growers Market, held at the Nevada County Fairgrounds on Saturdays from this month through October, has started its season selling spring vegetables and fruits.

As the other markets open in Penn Valley in June and Nevada City in July, peaches, apricots, tomatoes and other produce will become available.

B.J. Forster, treasurer of the Nevada County Certified Growers Markets, an umbrella organization for the three markets, said trends toward healthy eating spurred higher sales last year, exceeding those in 2000.

“People are more conscious with what goes in their food,” said Forster, a south county lavender and herb grower.

This year, there were 30 growers participating at the start of the season, up from 27 last year, said Forster.

The state certifies that growers market vendors grow the crops they sell. The state doesn’t certify that a crop is organically grown, but health conscious consumers can quiz growers about what techniques and chemicals they use.

Started in 1979, the Nevada County Certified Growers Markets are among the oldest in the state, said Forster.

This year, the markets will have more demonstrations on how to use the vegetables to make dishes like pickled sauerkraut, said Forster.

The Nevada County Certified Growers Markets are at the following locations this year:

— Saturdays, Nevada County Fairgrounds, Gate 4, 9 a.m. to noon, through October.

— Tuesdays, Zion Street across from Hospice Gift & Thrift in Nevada City, 3 to 6 p.m., first Tuesday in July through September.

— Thursdays, Western Gateway Park in Penn Valley, 3 to 6 p.m., first Thursday in June through September.

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