Outdoor farmers’ market season open April 14 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Record-setting March weather has abated, but the small farms that sell at local farmers’ markets are likely to be feeling the effects long after market customers are sporting shorts and flip-flops. The past two years started out unusually cool and wet, but this year’s snows, flooding and wind damage represent a new level of challenge, even for experienced growers.
For growers without greenhouses to produce earlier products, heavy rains have delayed planting. Other farmers who do have greenhouses and other season-extending equipment spent the winter and spring trying to keep them upright despite heavy rains, snow and winds.
But it’s still time to celebrate locally grown food, community and the arrival of spring. The opening of the 32-week outdoor farmers’ market season follows right on the heels of a 14-week indoor market season at the fairgrounds, leaving only six weeks without farmers’ markets.
The first 150 customers at the opening of the Corvallis Farmers’ Market this Saturday will receive a special two-day coupon they can use that day and again on the following Wednesday or Saturday. Or they can help the market spread its message of local food and community by giving the second part of the coupon to a friend.
John Twist, dubbed “A weaver of 12 string wonders” by Willamette Week, opens the market music season. The Center against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARDV) will be offering information as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Market shoppers can use features on www.locallygrown.org to search for products or for particular vendors and they can view interactive maps showing the location of vendors on each market day.
Early markets feature spring raab and other greens, potatoes and other storage vegetables, radishes, turnips, carrots, rhubarb, preserved foods, honey, eggs, meat, cheese plus nursery plants and cut flowers.
Experienced market shoppers walk around the market before making purchases. They get to know individual farmers, try samples of unfamiliar foods and get recipes and other cooking advice. When it’s time to preserve the harvest by drying, freezing or canning, these savvy shoppers know farmers they can ask for quantity discounts.
Those interested in keeping their dollars circulating locally and knowing who grew their dinner can rely on farmers’ market guidelines that prohibit any resale and generally restrict agricultural products to a six-county Willamette Valley area. Local produce, plants, cut flowers, honey, meats and eggs grown by vendors are on the main menu, while restaurants and baked goods are limited and must disclose sources of ingredients so that the market can maximize its local content.
Oregon Trail and debit cards are processed at the market booth with a wireless card reader and traded for wooden tokens. While outside funds are available, Oregon Trail customers can receive additional incentive tokens that increase their access to healthier foods found at farmers’ markets.
Other market-related programs that increase access to high quality foods are the Farm Direct Nutrition program coupons for low-income families with children and some seniors, and gleaning groups who collect perishable produce from vendors and distribute to others in need.
City transportation officials encourage market customers to consider alternative modes of transportation. If you ride a bike, you might score covered parking inside the market. Walking along the riverbank on the multi-modal path is a relaxing way to arrive. The bus station, where all routes lead, is at 5th & Monroe, only a few blocks from the market.
Parking near the market is a mixture of free and paid. Free parking is found north of Van Buren Ave. on 1st Street. Meters are patrolled on Saturdays.