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Outdoor and seasonal farmers' markets begin

Compost is the key to heating season-extending high tunnels for some farmers.
Compost is the key to heating season-extending high tunnels for some farmers.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Farmers' markets are moving outside, or getting started, for the growing season throughout the Cincinnati area beginning this weekend.

The Montgomery Farmers' Market will begin this Saturday, May 3, from 9 AM to noon, at the Montgomery Elementary School, followed closely by the outdoor debut of the Loveland market on Tuesday, May 6 between 3 and 7 PM. The Deerfield Farmers' Market starts up on May 10, Lebanon on May 15, West Chester on May 17, and Hyde Park on May 18.

Markets that operate during the winter, but have recently resumed their in-season hours and locations, include Madeira, and Lettuce Eat Well, on the west side.

Many of the crops found at these farmers' markets in the early part of the year will be cool-weather crops grown in high tunnels, or hoop houses, which are simple greenhouses farmers use to protect crops from extreme weather in the earliest or latest parts of the growing season. Produce such as kale, spinach, lettuce, and other leafy greens often benefit from this type of growing. Practical Farmers of Iowa yesterday released the results of a study they did to help heat a high tunnel in cold weather with heat derived form compost.

The system used solar-powered blower and two heat exchangers to store heat from composting in an 1100 gallon water tank. When cold weather arrived, solar-powered pumps then moved the hot water through pipes under the soil, protecting the plants from freezing. In addition, the blowers kept the compost charged with proper amounts of oxygen for quality compost, without the labor of turning it. When the compost was finished, it also became a valuable soil amendment, perhaps in the same high tunnel.