When the Farmers’ Market opens Saturday, May 8, there will be several new features, including a new director. Courtney Basile, who took the reins about six months ago, uses the word “more” a lot when describing this season.
“We will have more choices for berries and produce, more hot food throughout the season, a lot more variety of music and entertainment,” she said. “And we hope to do more family-centered activities. Last year (kids) planting seeds and pumpkin painting were big hits.”
Basile said organizers are looking to add yoga demonstrations; and, to introduce people to new varieties, they plan tomato and melon tastings and chefs’ demonstrations of recipes using less common vegetables.
Another new aspect is that there will be an Electronic Benefits Transfer machine, starting about the first of July It will allow people who use the Oregon Trail program to purchase foods offered at the market. Seniors also get coupons for discounts, she said.
Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through mid-October
Town Square Park, Main and Fiske streets
Basile continued her list of options saying she expects to have a beef vendor and more nursery stock and produce vendors.
Silverton’s Farmers’ Market began in 2002 with four or five vendors and has grown to between 20 and 25 participating during the season. Produce is available for a longer season and now there are jams, jellies, hot food, baked goods and eggs. “We also have some arts and crafts – it has to be garden or farm-related – and fresh flowers”
The growth is due in part to an increased interest in consuming foods that are locally raised, Basile said. “The locavore movement has really spurred on the market. The person selling it to you is the person who that morning pulled it out of the ground.”
Most of the food is organically grown – some vendors are certified organic – and, “You can trace your food back to the farmer,” even talk to the grower in most cases, getting ideas for new uses for their products. “The food goes straight from the field to the truck to the market,” she said. Freshness makes a difference. “I’ll never forget the first time I tasted a carrot from the market. It was so sweet and so fresh.”
Basile comes to her position as coordinator of the farmers’ market after years as one of its customers. “I was the average shopper there; I made it my ritual every Saturday. I got to know the vendors.” She enjoys her job. “It’s fun to be a part of something where you can feel the momentum swelling.” She has lots of ideas for things she wants to add to the market. “I’m looking for vendors of cheese, honey; more art,” she said.
At this time of year she’s busily signing up vendors, who can participate as many times through the season as desired, to fit their harvest schedule. The annual association fee is $30 and the cost of a booth is $15 a week, with a discount to those who commit to a longer season.
In addition to more vendors, Basile is looking for more volunteers to help out. She can always use more.