Welcome the season of local farmers markets
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 17:05
Farmers markets fill the Monmouth area for the benefit of all community members.
Among the markets, the list includes the Monmouth Farm and Craft Market, the Independence Farmers Market and the Polk County Bounty Market.
The Monmouth Farm and Craft Market is held at the Old Fire Hall building on Warren Street. It is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., beginning in March and running through December.
Vendors at the market sell items such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beef and plants. There are also a number of crafts such as jewelry, paintings, knitting and crocheting.
Most of the products are locally grown or produced by residents in Polk County, so several of the producers come from Independence, Monmouth and Salem, Ore.
In fact, vendors have been continuing their routines since the market opened four years ago.
Meanwhile, the Independence Farmers Market has been running for well over a decade.
Hosted in the Sterling Savings Bank parking lot on Main Street, the market is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., operating from April to November.
Most vendors live around Independence, and their items include produce such as zucchinis and tomatoes, eggs, craft items and cut flowers.
People can also find the Polk County Bounty Market on the Polk County Courthouse lawn on Main Street in Dallas, Ore. It runs on Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., starting in May and ending in September.
This is the newest market of the three, as it first opened in June of 2010, making this year its third season.
Among the many products, vendors sell beef, pork, cheeses, goat milk, goat yogurt, home baked goods, bread and vegetables. Also, a new addition to the market this year is wine, and seven local wineries come throughout the season to sell and taste the wine.
Another addition is the fact that the Polk County Bounty Market offers stamp benefits so that people who get food stamps can buy foods from the market.
Despite their individual qualities, all three of these markets contain similar characteristics. For one, their products are generally fresher than what people would find at grocery stores.
The market coordinator of the Monmouth Farm and Craft Market, Carla Finegan, described that when people buy food directly from the farmer, they get them at a fresher quality without being mass produced.
“You go to a grocery store, and you buy tomatoes. It is probably picked bright red, so then it is refrigerated, trucked and shipped to the local distribution center and then the local grocery store. It might be shipped in a few hours; it might arrive after a few days. You come to a farmers market. You are likely to be able to buy a tomato that was picked yesterday or even that morning,” Finegan said.
Malinda Bermudez, the market secretary and a vendor of the Independence Farmers Market, said that her products are picked either the day before or that morning as well.
“We have family members who will actually pick during the day and bring things mid-market even, so it is really fresh,” Bermudez said. “Since you are buying directly from the person who grew it, there is a pride issue there. We are going to look the customer right in the eye and know that that is what we produce.”
Another similarity among the three markets includes the fact the consumers’ money stays in Polk County, benefiting the community.
Market manager of the Polk County Bounty Market, Bonnie Dreier said, “We charge vendor fees for our vendors to come in and then whatever they make selling all goes back into their pockets, back into the community.”
In a farmers market, Finegan said that local producers have the opportunity to sell their products directly to the public without using the middle man and ultimately saving money unlike in a grocery store.
Bermudez also said, “It is actually a great meeting place for people to come down and network. It is really a collaboration of not just the farmer, but they actually start to work with other people in the community.”
Dreier believes that “it is an awesome atmosphere to be in,” and her market has become family over the years.
When it comes to the local farmers markets around Monmouth, there are benefits for both the vendors and the consumers,w especially when they can sell and buy locally produced items right in their own backyards.