Vancouver Farmers Market ends banner year

As die-hard customers brave the wet weather, vendors call 2012 season a successful one

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor

Published:

 
photoRain is forecast for the metro area today.

(/The Columbian)

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The Sunday rain did not deter shopper Neville Bayly from taking in the final day of the season at the Vancouver Farmers Market.

She said she comes every weekend.

"I like fresh produce every week and I'm a foodie," she said, armed with her umbrella. "And I like to support my vendor friends."

"I think its better and better each year," Bayly of Vancouver said of the market. "It's very well organized and I like the competitiveness of each stall, and I have my favorites, I know them by name."

She bought delicata squash and fresh organic apples on Sunday.

So, the 23rd edition of the March through October market is in the books.

Jordan Boldt said his unofficial records show a 40 percent increase in customers over 2011. He said more than 360,000 people visited the market.

"It's been a record year for a lot of vendors," Boldt said. Despite a half-inch of rain Sunday, many vendors were doing well, with holiday shoppers making purchases. Vendors pay $40 a day to sell at the market on Esther Street just off Eighth Street. Boldt said the market is self-sustaining financially with its 180 vendors.

He said a busy day brings 15,000 or more customers.

"We had days when at 9:30 (a.m.) it was wall-to-wall people," Boldt said.

Crawford's Farm of Cornelius, Ore., had a great year at the market, said Sandro Chavez, 37, and his cousin, Isamar Zurita, 14. They sell several kinds of vegetables and fruits.

Chavez said the family has been coming to the Vancouver market for two decades.

Zurita said on a good day, the family can have sales of $5,000.

"We'll keep coming, definitely," Zurita said, when asked if Crawford's will be back in 2013.

At the Camdeo Candle, Steve Wildman said it has been an excellent year for the Fisher's Landing firm run by his daughter, Caitlin Marsters. The soy candles sell for $7 to $14 and come in 80 scents.

He said his daughter was not staffing the booth because, "She's making candles right now."

"I had a lot of return customers (Sunday), they were doing their holiday shopping," Wildman said.

"I doubled my business from last year," said Edward Geisler of CGI Orchard in Hazel Dell. He sells 11 varieties of heirloom apples from September through October at the market.

"I'm certified organic. Customers want fresh, local and organic," he said.

Boldt said he was pleased with the 2012 season and noted the market offered a healthy meals effort this year.

He said about 150 people took advantage of the program that demonstrates cooking health y meals and then offers the foods for free to families in need who watch the presentation.

Boldt noted the market also awarded three scholarships this year to local students interested in agriculture. The awards totaled $5,000.

As for shopper Bayly, she will be back at the market in March, saying: "I look forward to the spring because it means the farmers market is back and I return to my produce community."