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New farmers market highlights Hughson's ag products
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Nancy Jimenez and Nereida Ramos of J & J Farms offer a variety of locally grown fruits at the Hughson Farmers Market, including yellow peaches and nectarines. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

The small Valley town of Hughson is already known for its agricultural products, so when city officials decided to start a summer farmers market, the idea was a natural fit.

"Our Economic Development Committee was looking for something to bring people to downtown Hughson," said Hughson City Council member George Carr about the event's creation.

The market is located on Charles Street and runs from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. the second and fourth Thursdays of the month through Sept. 10, ending just before the town's annual Fruit & Nut Festival.

The market has already seen some success in its first few weeks.

"The first week we had a couple of vendors who sold out of product," said Carr.

Vendor Joe Ortega of SunBlest Farms is also a fan of the small market.

"I love the little town and the people are really responsible and friendly. The city leaders are also very supportive," said Ortega.

The market is also a good way to meet local producers, like Cheree Hill of Jars of Delicious.

The Hughson woman is keeping cottage industry alive with her home business of custom made jams, jellies, fruit butters, pie fillings and fresh canned fruit. Hill uses only local fruits in her jarred creations.

"The kiwi comes from a grove in Hughson and the strawberries from Turlock," she said. "Everything tastes better fresh and local."

Along with the fresh fruits and vegetables, visitors to the Hughson market can meet local firefighters and learn more about the town's new disposal company, Gilton Solid Waste Management.

Every market night features live music, a bounce house for the kids and a children's craft hosted by the Hughson Family Resource.

The Stanislaus County Area Agency on Aging will be at this week's market to distribute coupon booklets to local senior citizens. The coupons are made available through the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program and can be applied towards purchases of fresh fruits, vegetables, cut herb and honey at Certified Farmers Markets. Each booklet contains $20 worth of coupons.