Skip to main content

Farmer's Markets in Oregon

Dane County Winter Farmers Market, 2011
I had the unique pleasure of working with two (yes, two!) other bloggers as part of the Guest Post Swap for the 2012 Blogathon. (Check out my first swap post about Guelph, Ontario and its lovely rivers, too!)  Elyse Grau writes at Garden to Table about everything delicious growing and going on around her in Oregon as well as her own garden. If you're like me, you'll be hungry by the end!

Farmers' markets are everywhere these days. The USDA reported a 17% increase in the number of markets between 2010 and 2011. I've seen at least 3 new markets open within twenty miles of ours in the past year.

I manage the market in the small town where I live. Creswell, Oregon is a town of 5000, with a large outlying rural area. The market, currently in its fifth year, is held every Tuesday from 4-6 pm.

It was originally a project of our local library, and was held in the library's “backyard” (a fenced-in partially covered ex-lumberyard). At the end of our 2010 season we moved to the parking lot and banquet room of a local caterer and baker. She had been one of our most popular vendors, and moving to her facility made life easier for her, and allowed us to remain open year-round.

Being open in winter, in an area where very few crops will grow without cover has been a challenge. So far, we are meeting that by allowing some resale of produce bought wholesale. Many of the farmers installed greenhouses or hoophouses last year in order to begin producing vegetables year-round, and I'm expecting to see more vendor-grown produce this fall/winter season.

Our biggest challenge though, is getting enough traffic for the vendors – winter or summer. Though our attendance soars in May through August, we'd still like to see it grow.

 Some vendors have higher expectations, and won't join, or will try is out and leave after a few markets. Others are more realistic and understand that it will take time to build clientele, and that only by showing up week to week can we offer enough to continue to attract more customers.

Part of the reason for the low attendance is the economy. The down-turn started in the market's second year, and even as it improves, habits have been changed. We cannot always compete on price with some of the discount merchants in the area. Most of our customers are those who feel it is more important to support local agriculture and business, or to eat fresh, in-season produce than it is to save a few dollars.

We're looking for ways to educate the rest of the consumers in the reasons for eating local and the benefits of eating seasonally. Many customers, used to buying any fruit or vegetable imaginable any time of the year don't realize that corn is grown in the summer and apples in the fall. We're working on that, too.

We have a very friendly market, with few rules. Some of the larger markets impose many restrictions and fees on the vendors, and deal with much more conflict than I have ever had to face. In fact, all the regular vendors say that they come to this market mostly because they like it, not because their sales are so good! I enjoy managing the market (for no pay even!) for the same reason.

We do have a good mix of items at the market, though I am trying to find more new items. Most of the farmers sell a majority of the same vegetables, but everyone will have one or two items unique to them, or offer a wider selection of that item, such as peppers or tomatoes.

We also have meat and poultry sellers, beans and grains, nuts and honey. In the spring we may have plants (not this year) and some cut flowers in the summer.

This year we started a program of brief talks and demonstrations. They are on all sorts of subjects dealing with gardening and cooking, and have included demonstrations of methods of cooking vegetables, a discussion and tasting of gourmet salt, soil testing and how to build a wood-fired oven. (the latter was our most well-attended talk so far).

Elyse grows fruit, nuts, vegetables and herbs on a portion of her five acres in Oregon. She writes articles on gardening and cooking. She also authors a monthly newspaper column entitled “Garden to Table” and companion blog, both about growing what you eat and eating what you grow. As a certified Master Food Preserver she also teaches people safe methods of preserving what they grow.


Popular posts from this blog

Finding Heirloom Seeds in Japan

Drying pods of heirloom Hutterite Soup Beans. Since moving to Japan eight years ago, one of my greatest challenges as a farmer-gardener has been to find heirloom or open-pollinated seeds. The majority of seeds available are not GMO (genetically modified organisms) as Japan, at this point, doesn't accept this material. Most seeds, though, are nearly all F1 varieties. Heirloom and F1 Varieties In plant breeding, F1 is the name given to the first generation of a cross between two true breeding parents. For example, if I decide to cross an Amish Paste Tomato with another heirloom variety tomato such as Emmy, in hopes of getting a gold paste tomato, the resulting generation of fruit is F1. In order to get that tomato of my culinary dreams, I'll need to choose members of that first generation that are headed in a direction I like - early ripening, medium-sized fruit, good taste - and save their seeds. I'll plant them and repeat the process again and again over time unti

Satoimo: One of Japan's Favorite Slimy Things

Satoimo in all their hairy glory. This post first appeared in slightly different form on Garden to Table as part of the 2012  Blogathon . The website has since moved on to the ether, but the post is still a good one. After all, people here are still eating satoimo on a daily basis, and many others are just seeing these little potato-like objects for the first time. Enjoy! Satoimo is one of Japan's odder vegetables. Under it's rough, slightly furry skin is white flesh that is a little bit slimy even raw, and with a gentle nutty flavor.* Baked, grilled, steamed with dashi, or deep-fried satoimo stands well on its own or paired up with other vegetables and meats in a wide variety of soups and stews . (The leaves are also edible.) Satoimo stores well, and like any root crop worth the effort, stocks are just running low on this household favorite as the farmers in my area of Tokyo get ready to put a new crop in the ground in May. I cannot say I was a fan of this l

Goma Ai Shingiku - Sesame and Chrysanthemum Greens

Last week I had the pleasure of helping some friends work in their parents garden not too far away. Tucked behind the house, the garden sits on a former house lot. When it came up for sale about five years ago, my friend's father jumped at the chance. Open land in Tokyo can be hard to find and expensive, but for a retired professional looking for a little spot to till in the city it was an opportunity to good to pass up. Now, it is a garden to envy. As we came through the gate rose, lily, and peony blooms greeted us with great shouts of color while rows of vegetables stood tidily at attention on the sunny center stage. Small fruit trees along with one of the biggest sansho trees I've seen yet stood quietly here and there. Near waist-high sweet corn, bushy young potato plants, cherry tomatoes, eggplants, and beans were preparing their summer fruits, while a handful of still quite luscious looking winter vegetables like komatsuna, mizuna, and kabu held one last ro