Customers welcome return of Downtown's Market Square Farmers Market

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Downtown resident Janie Robinson and her friend Donna Farmer, of Westwood, stop by the Market Square Farmers Market almost every Thursday to see “the honey man” after their morning silver sneakers class at the PNC YMCA.

For years, the friends have looked forward to the weekly summer market showcasing local vendors. For Ms. Robinson, the market is walking distance from her home on Stanwix Street. “The honey man’s” wildflower honey, Ms. Farmer says, is one of the best treatments for the nasal allergies that plague her during the spring and summer.

“We come here all the time, and will drop by to see him,” Ms. Farmer said today. “(The honey) is so fresh and good, straight from the beehive.”

Produced by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, the farmers market runs every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Oct. 30. About 30 local vendors offer a variety of goods, selling everything from produce and pierogies to vegetarian dog treats.

A newcomer to the Market Square market this season is part-time vendor GOODLife Juices, a Sharpsburg-based organic juicing company. While owner Sherry Quinn chatted with a customer, several other curious market-goers tried samples and walked away with purchased bottles of the chilled, flavored juices.

Ryan Zarris, whose diet largely consists of juice, stopped by the stand to “make sure they were still there,” and told them he’d be back after a meeting to purchase more juice bottles.

On average, the Squirrel Hill resident, who works Downtown in The Bank Tower building at Wood Street and Fourth Avenue, uses about 60 pounds of vegetables and juices to make his own juices. He tried the juicing company last week, he said, and loved it.

“Theirs is so much better than mine,” he said. “My family usually shops down in the Strip District until this time of year, then we come down here. We have a soft spot for the small guys, the local companies, and some of them produce pretty awesome, quality products.”

Ms. Quinn said most of the company’s sales come from markets and online orders. Market-goers want to see something new, she said, and there’s a “high demand” for organic, natural options for juicers who don’t have time to do it themselves.

“Last week, we were a little local company that no one had heard of,” she said. “But, people need accessibility for a lifestyle change like taking on juicing,” making juice a big part of a diet.

Despite the heavy rainfall last Thursday on GOODLife’s debut at Market Square, the vendor sold almost 100 bottles of juice. This week, Ms. Quinn expected even more with warmer weather and a market packed with residents eager to try the different vendors.

Michelle Brewer, 29, brought her two children, Oak, 5, and Ellis, 3, to experience their first farmers market as a family.

The Shaler resident had never been to the market and was excited to show her children the benefits of buying local products.

“I think it’s so beautiful,” Ms. Brewer said. “It’s awesome that they have a lot of different things going on, and samples to try. With little kids, you never know whether they’re going to like something or not until they try it.”

“But, you can never go wrong with flowers and food,” she added with a chuckle as Oak and Ellis happily sucked their honey sticks.

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