New hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays from November through March (but closed Dec. 23 and 30), expanding to Sundays starting in April.
“This year we decided we’re ready to run an all-year market. Our community needs a food option downtown. This was a food desert until New Seasons recently opened,” market manager Kate Reudink said.
Going year-round also extends popular programs like SNAP Market Match, which lets customers use their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program electronic benefits transfer cards to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms and edible starts.
The winter market includes 15 new sellers and 155 vendors total, with one-fifth offering produce, even in January and February. Reudink encouraged farmers to prolong their growing season and reached out to bigger farms in the Tri-Cities to provide winter produce.
Quackenbush Farms, which recently moved from Ridgefield to Eagle Creek, Ore., added hoop houses to grow veggies in cold weather. Dilish Farms, located northeast of Vancouver, offers a bounty of winter squashes and hearty greens like chicory at its winter market booth.
New items available at the market include poke and Spam musubi at Husubis’ Poke Shop, Filipino street food from Kali Kantina, and wild-caught fish, smoked fish and crab (when in season on the Oregon Coast) sold by Brandywine Fisheries.
“We’re very focused on supporting local agriculture because we’re a farmers market,” Reudink said. “But we also like to support local artisans.”
In this vein, the market hosts several weekends of artisan holiday pop-up shops at Slocum House (605 Esther St.) that feature a rotating roster of vendors. The first will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Nov. 24 (during the community tree lighting in Esther Short Park), with the series wrapping up when Santa visits Slocum House from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 16.