This Eastern Panhandle market offers locally grown food all week long and all year ’round.
Farmers Markets are the place to be on summer Saturdays—especially in Charles Town, where the community rallies around the locally grown foods, live music, and regional artists each Saturday morning through October. But just a block away, Bushel & Peck keeps the area fresh six days a week, come rain, snow, or sunshine.
The specialty grocery shop opened less than two years ago and aims to help its regional producers thrive year ’round. “What I found was that part of small farms’ struggle is trying to be farmers and small businesses and event managers and politicians,” says Todd Coyle, who manages the market. “The idea was to let the farmers be farmers and the artisans be artisans, and we’ll take the risk and punch for you and try to help you out. It just worked out.”
The grocery store specializes in local product, from artisan bread to fresh-picked ramps, fruits, vegetables, jams, and jellies. It pulls from more than 50 vendors within the region, and many of the products are organically grown.
The market is as much a service to the residents as it is a destination for tourists. Real estate agents consider the local market a downtown attraction for those looking at houses within walking distance. It’s a way to bring locally grown food a little closer to home. “To us, food is a part of culture and, for culture to be vibrant, you need music, food, and the arts,” Coyle says. “You need a little bit of everything so we support community.”
Coyle is chief operating officer of the Jefferson G.A.P. Coalition, the umbrella nonprofit which oversees the seasonal street market and Bushel & Peck. “G.A.P.” stands for “growers, artisans, and producers.” The nonprofit was founded more than two years ago when the city approached the Charles Town Farmers Market steering committee about starting an indoor version of its popular street market in an empty storefront.
“Charles Town is the county seat, so there’s a lot of business here, but downtown wasn’t doing very well for a couple of years, as a lot of small town downtowns weren’t,” Coyle said. “I think everyone just saw an opportunity. Markets, traditionally, have been kind of a gathering spot. It becomes a focal point when different parts of the community come together and reconnect with why we’re all here.” 100 West Washington Street, Charles Town, 304.885.8133, jeffersongap.org, @bushelandpeckwv
Photographed by Nikki Bowman