Heart and Hand House, Inc., and the Barbour County Community Garden Market are the Barbour County Chamber of Commerce Members of the Month in June. Brenda Hunt, left, is the Director of Heart and Hand House.  Jody Carpenter is the Manager of the Barbour County Community Garden Market.

For more than 50 years Heart and Hand House Inc., has provided for the needs of low-income families in Barbour County. The ministry, an affiliate of the WV United Methodist Church, began in 1965 as a project of the Women’s Society of World Service of the EUB Church, with a mission that remains the same today:  to minister to the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional needs of in-crisis families and individuals in Barbour County and its immediate surroundings. The main office building in Philippi houses the Emergency Services Program, which includes a food pantry, baby pantry, and limited assistance with utility bills, rent, and other critical needs. Two thrift stores, one in Philippi and one in Belington, facilitate the distribution of essential items such as clothing, shoes and household goods, while generating income to support the other ministry programs through the sale of excess goods.

 Each summer, more than a dozen volunteer work teams come to Barbour County to tackle emergency repair work on several homes and to build one or two new ones through the Home Repair and Construction Program. Throughout the school year, Heart and Hand also provides supplemental food to students in two local elementary schools through a Backpack Feeding Program.  At Christmastime, the ministry distributes Christmas Baskets containing food for a special holiday meal, hygiene items, cleaning products and devotional material to about 200 local families. Hats, gloves, crayons, coloring books and stuffed toys are also provided to students in the local Head Start program at Christmas.  The office and thrift stores are open Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

The Barbour County Community Garden Market, an affiliate of Heart and Hand House, is a consignment-style farmer’s market that serves as a source of income for more than 100 local producers each year, and provides community access to fresh, healthy foods. From its humble beginnings 25 years ago as a little farm stand on Main Street, to its current location in The Market Place at 107 South Main Street, Philippi, the Barbour County Community Garden Market has grown significantly over the past several years.  With funding and technical support from community partners such as USDA, Natural Capital Investment Funds, VC2, Woodlands Development, and WV Small Business Development Center, among many others, the market has embarked on a major expansion of its efforts to serve as a local food hub. 

In addition to taking the traditional garden market to a year-round operation, adding a café that features locally produced foods, and providing meeting room space for business and community events, the market also is developing an aggregation center that will facilitate processing and wholesale marketing of locally grown product to schools and other institutions.  In keeping with Heart and Hand’s overall mission, one of the goals of the market is to provide low-income families an opportunity to earn extra income by selling surplus fruits and vegetables they raise. While the market is open to all local producers and customers regardless of income, food access for low-income families is supported through the acceptance of SNAP EBT and WV Farmers Market Nutrition Program coupons.  Current market hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.