Raine Lookabill

Harry Funk/The Almanac

Raine Lookabill works the grill for Logan Family Farms during a Bethel Park Farmers Market Tuesday in 2020.

The Bethel Park Farmers Market will be opening shop this season on from 3 to 7 p.m. May 4 at the VIP Parking Lot in South Park, off Corrigan Drive — next to the ice skating rink — with an expected 40 to 45 total vendors this year, including food trucks, full and part-season vendors.

Miranda Wayne

Miranda Wayne

“Most of our vendors from last season are coming back, along with several new ones,” said Cathy Muscato, Bethel Park Recreation assistant director. “We have a lot of fun, exciting changes coming as well to make this year’s market hopefully the top one in the area.”

The first of the changes was the hiring of Miranda Wayne as the new market coordinator.

“We are so excited and feel really fortunate to have Miranda joining our market,” Muscato said. “Not only does she have a degree in biology and direct experience working at a farm, but also in educating the public on how farmers markets can play an integral part of their daily lives. She’s shopped our market and others for years and she lives her life utilizing the food she purchases seasonally.

“She’s highly motivated to help others do so,” she added, “and I’m sure that she’ll help us to take our market to the next level.”

Wayne has always had a strong interest in farm to table, and that interest has increased since she’s had her two young girls.

“I ran a lot of environmental clubs in college and learned about farm to table then,” she said. “I’ve always envisioned working with farmers’ markets. And after having a child and taking a leave from my job as a chemist, I had the opportunity to volunteer at a local environmental farm, where I helped a retired horticulturist with gardening.”

Even as a child, Wayne was interested in the environment.

“I ate vegetarian through school, got my degree in biology and was waiting to go to graduate school, and that’s when I found farm to table. That showed me how I can eat a more local diet, and back then, it wasn’t easy to find locally grown items,” Wayne said. “So farm to table was my first endeavor and that’s how I started my food journey. More recently, with the pandemic, I found that it was especially helpful to find local resources for food. In a time of crisis, this knowledge is invaluable, and farmer’s markets can help with this effort.”

New to the Bethel Park Farmers Market this year will also be a colorful guest entrance.

“It will be like a hallway of vibrant flags leading guests into the Market from both entrances and will be very festive,” Muscato said. “We also received a very generous grant from the Bethel Park Community Foundation and they are now the sponsor of this year’s farmers market.”

Later in the season and depending on COVID-19 restrictions, several other new components will be added to the market including a variety of cooking demonstrations focused on foods in season, entertainment and tables for guests to enjoy meals.

Cathy Muscato

Harry Funk/The Almanac

Cathy Muscato

“I really want to focus on bridging the gap between the market and sustainability in the community,” said Wayne. “The market is an interesting place and offers the opportunity to learn about food and where it comes from and enables shoppers to ask farmers about the food, their farming practices and how to use the various items in recipes. I’ve always tried to cook seasonally and shopping at farmer’s markets has completely changed the way I cook. I hope that I can share that knowledge and make it more accessible to everyone.”

When the Market opens, Muscato expects the same COVID-19 safety protocols from last season to be in place.

“We’re monitoring updates as they evolve,” she said. “As of now, there will still be one directional walking paths for guests, hand sanitizer at both entrances, we’re still not permitting dogs at the start of the market, and everyone will need to be masked.”

Guests can also look to see the market be more interactive on social media this season.

“I’ll be posting recipes on Facebook and encouraging others to do so too,” Wayne said. “I’m also going to be starting a weekly market online newsletter highlighting vendors and what items are currently in season. I’m also looking to use these resources to get a better gauge on what customers are looking for and to see if we can offer something that’s missing or needed.”

New to the Market this season are a vegan-only food truck, Istanbul Grille; Pleasant Lane Farms, selling a variety of dairy cheeses; a second wine vendor, It’s Wine O’clock Somewhere Winery, offering sweet wines and wine slushies; and Pure Rose Organics, selling soap, body washes, lotions, soy candles and melts, and perfume oils.

“We still have some openings left for either the second or fourth week of the month participation,” said Muscato. “We’re also looking for a couple additional rotational food trucks, maybe once a month, to offer prepared, ready-to-eat foods.”

For those interested in being a vendor or providing entertainment, call 412-831-1328.

The Market will run from 3 to 7 p.m. each Tuesday from May 4 through Sept. 28, rain or shine. For updated information, visit www.bethelparkfarmersmarket.com or “Like” its Facebook page, Bethel Park Recreation Farmers’ Market.

“Our goal this year is to be the number one farmers market in Pittsburgh,” said Muscato said of the market, which was was voted third last year. “So we want to move up.”