Sun finally shines on farmers markets
Business picking up after slow start caused by cold, wet weather
Friday, June 24, 2011
Location: Battle Ground Village Center Park Pavilion, 1207 S.E. Eighth Way
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays through Sept. 17
Name: Camas Farmer’s Market
Location: Along Northeast Fourth Avenue, between Northeast Everett and Franklin Streets
When: 3-7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sept. 28
Name: Evergreen Farmers Market (East Vancouver Farmers Market)
Location: Endeavour Elementary School parking lot, 2701 N.E. Four Seasons Lane
When: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through Sept. 24
Name: La Center Farmers Market
Location: 4th and Aspen
When: 4-8 p.m. Thursdays, through September 8th
Name: Urban Growers Market
Location: One World Merchants, 2315 Main St., Vancouver
When: 4-8 p.m. on the second Friday of the month through Oct. 14
Location: 1309 N.E. 134th St., Vancouver, behind Wayside Market and the Shell gas station
When: 3-7 p.m. Thursdays through Sept. 29
Name: Vancouver Farmers Market
Location: Along Esther Street, south of West Eighth Street, near Esther Short Park
When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 30
Name: Washougal Farmers Market
Location: Reflection Plaza, Downtown Washougal
When: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays from July 2 through Oct. 8
Name: Woodland Farmers Market
Location: Horseshoe Lake Park, Downtown Woodland
When: 3-7 p.m. Fridays from June 24 through Sept. 30
For a calendar of local harvest times, CLICK HERE.
Radishes aren’t exactly 16-year-old Katrina Calderon’s favorite crop for sale at Vancouver’s new Evergreen Farmers Market on the east side.
It’s not that she doesn’t like the taste of them, it’s just that picking them the day before market can be a little dicey, she said.
“You get poked by the leaves and it hurts,” said Calderon, sitting behind the cash box at the Bautista Farm booth on a partly rainy Saturday morning.
The asparagus, which should be in season through the end of the month, isn’t as unruly, she said, with a quick nod to her 10-year-old sister, Kara Meraz, who spent much of the previous day bunching the pointy green vegetables.
Farmers markets across Clark County are experiencing a bit of a slow start this year, with the cold, wet weather setting harvest times back by three weeks to a month on every crop.
But finally, as the sun has slowly started to poke through the clouds, things are beginning to pick up.
“It’s a weather-dependant game,” said Jordan Boldt, executive director of the Vancouver Farmers Market near Esther Short Park. “Growers have had some success using greenhouses to get through the start of the season, and things are coming back. The weather’s starting to get better.”
Clark County is home to a growing number of farmers markets. Some, like the one Boldt runs, are massive, with dozens of vendors. Others, like the east-side market, are smaller, with only a few handfuls of local booths.
But all of them have one thing in common — they’re a place to find fresh, newly picked produce grown by local farmers.
“You’re not going to find a lot of locally grown produce in chain stores,” Boldt said. “Often, things there are grown in California and are at least a few days old. They’re picked before they’re ripe and ripen on a truck or on the shelf.”
Farmers market goods, on the other hand, are often picked either the evening before or morning of the sale, he said.
The markets also provide an opportunity for buyers to talk directly with growers or those that make the variety of other products for sale.
Ross Stark, a beekeeper operating The Garden of Beeden stand at the Evergreen market, said he loves answering questions and telling people more about what he does.
“I get a lot of people skills from being here,” Stark said. “I like selling products, and people come back and tell me how much they liked them. I can not make a penny and just be happy hearing that.”
Bees have also been affected by the late start to the season, and honey production has been a little slow so far, he said.
“They’re taking a prolonged vacation,” Stark said. “But as soon as the sun pokes its head out, they’ll go nuts.”
Visitors can find a vast array of other items at the markets as well, including crafted items like birdhouses, flower bouquets, cheese, flavored nuts and specialty popcorn.
Many of the specialty food vendors also offer samples, such as Patty’s Kettlecorn, which offered samples of its dill flavored popcorn at the Evergreen market a few weeks ago.
“You can actually get just about any flavor you want on popcorn,” said Russell Phillips, the popcorn chef. “There’s some that you say, ‘No, that doesn’t sound good,’ and then you try it and it’s really good.”
Phillips and other vendors often don’t have retail storefronts and only sell at farmers markets.
Buying their products is a way to support local business and the local economy, Boldt said.
“Every farmers market is a little bit different,” Boldt said. “I tell a lot of people, shop around, figure out what you like. A lot of people develop relationships with farmers and end up buying from them every week.”
Vendors also give customers tips on the best ways to store or cook their products — which is something you don’t usually get in a retail store, he added.
“There’s just so much value added to things from a farmers market, beyond just buying a product,” Boldt said.