Hickory – As local summer crops start ripening once again, Catawba County Public Health’s Farmers Market is returning for a sixth season.

The weekly market is set to run every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. starting June 7 and ending September 27. It will be held, weather permitting, in the Public Health parking lot, 3070 11th Ave. Drive SE, Hickory, NC 28602.

The market is open to the public, and cash, debit cards, EBT, WIC and senior farmers market vouchers will be accepted. Ample parking is available and the market can also be reached by two Greenway bus routes (routes 3 and 4). Approximately 250 customers attended the market each week last season and purchased produce from half a dozen dedicated local farmers.

The annual farmer’s market connects with the community in a variety of ways. Taste tests are planned to coincide with the market, and will feature dishes courtesy of the Catawba County Cooperative Extension office. Community groups are also invited to tour the market. Currently, early child care centers, day camps, and Seniors Morning Out groups plan to tour the market this season. If interested in a tour of the market, please call Tracey Paul at (828) 695-5861.

In partnership with the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, the market’s goal is to improve individual and community health by increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables. WIC clients receive Farmers Market Nutritional Program vouchers when available to supplement their WIC food benefits with fresh, local produce during the summer months.

“We are excited to increase access to healthy foods, while also increasing redemption of WIC Farmers Market Nutritional Program vouchers,” said Julie Byrd, WIC Director at Catawba County Public Health. “We are excited to continue serving the community in the market’s sixth season and we hope it continues to be a great source of healthy foods for our residents and clients.”

Catawba County WIC clients interested in receiving farmers market vouchers this year may call (828) 695-5884 for more information.

WIC is a federal supplemental nutrition program funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women and children up to age five. The program helps prevent nutrition-related problems in pregnancy, infancy and early childhood. WIC vouchers are redeemable at participating food stores and farmer’s markets for fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, milk, juice, eggs, cheese and cereal, among other nutritious items. WIC also provides nutrition and breastfeeding counseling.

In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.

Catawba County Public Health promotes and protects the health of all Catawba County residents through preventive services, innovative partnerships, and community health improvement initiatives. For more information, please call (828) 695-5800 or visit www.catawbacountync.gov/phealth.

Photo: The Public Health Farmers Market will begin welcoming shoppers and vendors for its fifth annual season beginning June 7.