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Alex Goodlett, Deseret News
SelectHealth's Greg Reid speaks about the Downtown Farmers Market during a press conference at Pioneer Park in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, June 6, 2017. The market, which is celebrating is 26th year, opens for the season on Saturday at 10 a.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — Downtown Farmers Market organizers are encouraging Utahns to support local food growers as the event opens for its 26th year.

The market attracts food growers from nearly every county in Utah and has drawn nearly 10,000 people to Pioneer Park in previous years, organizers said. This summer, the market will welcome more than 250 vendors offering a variety of produce and prepared food items.

This year's event also will include the Downtown Arts and Craft Market, with more than 130 local artists selling handmade goods.

The Downtown Farmers Market opens for the season Saturday and will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Saturday through Oct. 21. Beginning in August, Pioneer Park will also offer a Harvest Market from 4 p.m. to dusk Tuesday evenings.

"We offer the most authentic experience you can get and the best chance to really come down, meet your farmers, meet your growers and producers," said Alison Einerson, Downtown Farmers Market manager. "It's about a personal experience between you and your food, and the people who grow it and provide it for you."

In a partnership with SelectHealth and LDS Hospital, the market is starting a new waste reduction effort by offering reusable mesh and cloth produce bags at each vendor stall to help eliminate the use of plastic bags.

"We hope that this bag will have a lot of reusable use for your produce, for anything you buy at the market," said Greg Reid, a spokesman for SelectHealth.

SelectHealth will also be present at the market to offer nutritional information to shoppers. Its education effort is joined by LDS Hospital's Market Kids initiative to help familiarize kids with produce and teach good nutrition habits.

"We hope that through this program our kids will become more familiar with fruits and vegetables, and they will incorporate them into their diets," said Jeremy Holt, a spokesman for LDS Hospital.

Holt said the goals of the initiative are preventing nutritional problems and helping children become more comfortable with fruits and vegetables in their diets.

More information about the Downtown Farmers Market is available online at slcfarmersmarket.org.