New Wine Harvest Church hosts inaugural farmers market

| Thursday, June 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Aromas of fresh made kettle corn and seasoned Mediterranean fare cooking on a grill waft through the air.

Nestled in a residential neighborhood on East Willock Road in Baldwin Borough, the parking lot at New Wine Harvest Church has rows of fresh produce, meats and take-out dinners ready for purchase.

Home-grown tomatoes, onions and kale, fresh-made raisin bread, chocolate and snow cones are featured in the church's weekly farmers market, in its first year.

“I just like that it's fresh and it's really close to home,” Vickie Layton of Baldwin Borough at last week's kickoff event, as she searched for tomatoes, potatoes and fresh plants to purchase. “I'll buy anything that catches my eye.”

Church leaders started Baldwin Borough's first farmers market in an effort to connect with the community and promote healthy lifestyles, by offering residents a close venue to purchase naturally grown products, said Jim Bindschadler, director of operations.

“We want people to have a healthy spiritual life, a healthy physical life and a healthy mental life,” Bindschadler said.

New Wine Harvest Church, a non-demonominational church, moved to the former Willock Social Club in Baldwin Borough in 2009 from its original location on Old Clairton Road in Pleasant Hills.

Since then, the church has worked to connect with the residents of the borough, Bindschadler said. “A lot of people don't know what we're doing or even that we're here,” he said.

A farmers market seemed like a great way to invite residents to the church property, even if it's just a place for them to hang out and enjoy delicious, fresh food, he said.

“It can be a town center, a gathering place, without a specific agenda,” Bindschadler said.

He spent about six months researching the best ways to implement a farmers market and visited many others in the area to gather ideas.

The New Wine Harvest market has commitments from 15 vendors who sell various products. There are traditional farms and a meat and sweets vendors, and take-home meals are provided by the church's “Chef Lou.”

Lou Sarandos will dish up meals each week that incorporate items vendors sell at the market.

The Food Fusion program makes meals to eat at the market, or for takeout. This also is a test for a plan to sell take-home, family-style meals once or twice a week at the church, Sarandos said.

Some local residents stopped by last week's market on their way home from work. Other visitors came from as far away as White Oak, to support the church function.

That is the spirit of farmers markets, vendors said.

“They're a great community event. We get to know the people, the other vendors, and they get to know us,” said Scott Roach, of Whitehall. He is with Loafers Bread Co. of Wexford, a vendor at the market. “We get to make new friends.”

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818.

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