Urban farmers plan a market uptown

Food, entertainment, art and crafts will join small-scale produce

By Mary Ann Albright, Columbian Staff Reporter



If you go

What: Urban Growers Market, a new farmers market in Uptown Village featuring fresh produce, art, crafts, food vendors and live entertainment.

When: 4-8 p.m. May 13 and the second Friday of each month through Oct. 14.

Where: In the parking lot for One World Merchants, 2315 Main St., Vancouver.

Admission: Free.


Paul Dinberg is relatively new to farming as a small business. Dinberg, owner of Little Gnome Farm in Ridgefield, is in his second year of operation. He does not have any employees or a ride-on tractor.

He participated in farmers markets last year and found it difficult to compete with bigger farms. So, Dinberg was excited to learn about the new Urban Growers Market launching May 13 in Uptown Village. The market is specifically geared toward backyard growers and small-scale farmers.

“It gives small farmers such as myself an opportunity to build our business,” Dinberg said.

Dinberg plans to sell lettuce, mustard greens, carrots and radishes at the first market. His offerings will expand and evolve as the season continues.

Little Gnome Farm will be one of three community-supported agriculture operations, or CSAs, participating in the Urban Growers Market. In total, there will be more than 20 vendors, including small farms selling produce and plant starts, the Backyard Bounty Co-op (formerly the Urban Farmers Co-op), artists, craftspeople and food purveyors, as well as live entertainment.

The market will be held in the One World Merchants parking lot (2315 Main St., Vancouver). It is scheduled for 4-8 p.m. on the second Friday of each month through Oct. 14.

The organizing forces behind the market are Liz Halili, owner of One World Merchants; Chris Stevens, owner of Northwest Shirts; and Sunrise O’Mahoney, community garden manager at the 78th Street Heritage Farm in Hazel Dell and Vancouver Watersheds Council office administrator.

Halili and Stevens previously collaborated on the Uptown Village Association event Craft in the Village. They decided that adding produce would enrich the arts and crafts market, and came up with the idea for the Urban Growers Market. They tapped O’Mahoney for her contacts within the local-food movement.

Organizers hope that the event will encourage more people to grow their own food, and to buy local.

“Because of the nature of our lives, we’ve gotten away from growing our own food, and I don’t feel like that’s the best thing for people,” Halili said. “I feel strongly that we need more sources of local food.”

One group contributing locally grown food to the market will be the Backyard Bounty Co-op, an Urban Abundance program. Urban Abundance is a project of Slow Food Southwest Washington, the local chapter of the national nonprofit Slow Food USA. Urban Abundance encourages people in cities and suburban areas to grow and share food.

The co-op has about 10 members who will share a booth at the market. Maika Horjus, co-op program coordinator, hopes that the market helps build excitement about urban farming.

“I just hope that when people see something like the Backyard Bounty Co-op, where you have people who are small-scale growers out there marketing their produce and sharing it with their neighbors, that it would make them realize that they could do something like that in their own garden,” she said.

Keying into the notion of sharing with one’s neighbors, the market will feature a swap table where people can leave produce and plant starts they don’t need and take what they do.

The Urban Growers Market won’t just showcase local backyard growers and small-scale farmers, though. It’s also a venue for community members to sell arts and crafts. Additionally, food vendors will offer a range of options for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, everything from roasted nuts to barbecue to pizza to ice cream.

The market also will feature a tent where local musicians will perform. The May 13 lineup includes Joey LeBard, Aram Arslanian, Myles Lawrence and Jon Hecox.

Students from U.S. West Coast Taekwondo-Hazel Dell will perform demonstrations on the sidewalk in front of One World Merchants during the market.

The Space Art Collective, located behind One World Merchants, also will be open during the Urban Growers Market. It is featuring an interactive exhibit of pseudo-botanical objects titled “Dendro Organica.” People are invited to walk through and experience the installation.

With all the vendors and entertainment the Urban Growers Market has to offer, organizers and participants alike hope it’s a draw for the community.

“I hope it will be a fun, lively community gathering,” Horjus said.

Mary Ann Albright: maryann.albright@columbian.com, 360-735-4507.