Brent Finnegan -- July 15th, 2010
Clarence Dellinger, the vendor with glasses, long white hair and a wild beard, is about to turn 90. He has been growing and selling local produce in downtown Harrisonburg for 50 years. The local farmer is one of the few remaining founding members of the market, which officially began in 1979.
In 2007, Marlin Burkholder wrote that Clarence was doing local/organic long before the local food movement was cool.
Clarence Dellinger is the oldest vendor regularly present at the market and quite arguably the original vendor at the market long before it came to be known as the Harrisonburg Farmers’ Market. Clarence began selling vegetables from the back end of his battered pickup in 1960 when the Harrisonburg Police Department gave him permission to set up at the upper west corner of the then Harrisonburg municipal parking lot. Sometime in the early 70s a bi-level parking deck was built on the site and Clarence joined as one of the original vendors when the HFM was organized in the summer of 79 and set up on the lower east side of the deck. Today Clarence proudly declares that he has been in business for over 45 years and that he is able to pass for organic certification because “he has never used no chemicals since he began growing vegetables.” (read more)
Farmers market vendors plan to celebrate Clarence’s birthday at the upcoming Saturday morning market.
Photo by Josie Showalter