Thursday, May 21, 2015

Planning Farmers Market Demos


Registered Dietitians working with West Virginia University Healthcare conduct monthly culinary demos at the Morgantown Farmers Market during the outdoor season.  Last year, we conducted seven demonstrations. This exposure increased our visibility and helped dietitians to be recognized locally as healthy food experts.  Here's what went into the planning:

Seasonal Ingredients and Recipes

Plan the recipes according to what is in season.  We have strawberries in May-that's the month we made smoothies.  There's not much local produce in June, so we made meatballs with local beef.  Peaches are perfect in August when we made glazed peaches. Our monthly schedule included:

  • May:  Fresh Fruit Smoothies
  • June: Meatballs in Marinara
  • July:  Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Grainy Bread
  • August:  Glazed Peaches
  • September:  Warm Cinnamon Applesauce
  • October: Crunchy Pumpkin Pie
  • November:  Warm Sun Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Dip
Main Street Morgantown, with funds from a Healthy Communities Grant, printed 10 of my recipes on beautiful postcards.  

 We distributed recipes with samples.

Buying Ingredients

Due to limited supplies from the vendors on the day of the market, ingredients were purchased in advance or from other area farmers.  

  • Produce vendors who delivered to the hospital brought us some local produce during specific growing seasons.  Tomatoes, basil, and peaches were purchased through our hospital food vendors.
  • West Virginia University sold us apples from their orchards for the applesauce.  I drove to the orchard to pick up the apples I requested.
  • I ordered the Grainy Bread from a local bakery for the Mozzarella, Tomato, Basil Sandwiches.  I called in advance to order, then asked the bakery to slice it for me.
  • The ground beef for meatballs was ordered for pickup at the market one week in advance and purchased frozen.
  • The goat cheese for the Warm Chickpea Dip was ordered for pickup at the market one week in advance.

The Morgantown Farmers Market, with partial sponsorship from WVU Healthcare, built a kitchen-storage area and purchased some equipment.  Some serving and preparation equipment was transported from the hospital on the day of the demo.

  • The market has a 3-bowl sink, hand sink, griddle, grill, tables, pagoda, awning and electricity.
  • The hospital provided commercial smoothie maker, soup crock (for keeping hot items hot), long extension cord, steam table lids (to use as "bug guards), pans, serving trays, spatulas, dippers and pot holders.  The RD came equipped with sanitizing solution and plastic gloves.  The hospital marketing department provided aprons, hats and recyclable bags with the hospital logo .
There is no refrigeration at the market.  On smoothie making day, we used shelf stable soy milk and froze the containers of yogurt an hour before set-up, then kept the remainder of the yogurt cold with ice packs in insulated containers.

Time and Samples

The summer market begins on Saturdays at 8:30 am when the "bell is rung" and runs through 12 noon.

  • We were ready and waiting each of the Saturdays when the bell was rung.  That's the busiest time of the market and the temperature is still cool to protect the food.
  • We planned for 150-200 samples which lasted till about 10 am.
  • Average cost for food per event was $68.  This was credited to Nutrition Services by the Community Relations Department of the hospital.
  • The local health department requires that a list of ingredients for each product is posted.  This was in a frame on the table and with the recipe for passing.


These demonstrations were so much fun, thus it was not difficult to solicit help.  I had everything planned, the preparations complete and (with my husbands help) delivered all the products.

  • All assistants on the day of the market were volunteer.  These included:   WVU Healthcare registered dietitians, WVU Healthcare Community Services Director,  WV AND members, WVU dietitians, WVU students and my husband.  The hospital chef assisted in July when we grilled the open face Mozzarella Sandwiches.  All assistants had Food Handlers Cards issued by the local Health Department.

  • Some preparations were done in advance at the hospital by paid hourly staff. The bakers made the mini pumpkin pies for the November market, the volunteers distributed samples, and I showed how to make a normal size crust.

The recipe cards can be viewed here

To see more, click on the Farmers Market Images on the left side of my blog:




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