Farmers’ Market: Behind the Scenes

While we relish in rain’s reprieve and finally absorb some sun, there’s no better place to be than the Corvallis Farmers’ Market. The food, music, and flowers – all the friendly vendors and happy passersbys and acquaintances to meet and greet. It’s as if Downtown Corvallis shakes out it’s winter dross and comes alive when the Spring markets return.

The cupcakes, the coffee, the fresh baked bread. The jams, baskets, and bouquets. The soaps and string musicians – singers, dancers, yogis, and flow folks. All locally sourced. The Corvallis Farmers’ Market represents the ultimate cornucopia of all that is home to Corvallis and its resources. Most of us enter it as some beautiful display for our leisurely reaping, as if it all magically came together overnight. But what lies behind the scenes? 

Manager of the Corvallis and Albany Farmers’ Markets and long-time Corvallis resident, Rebecca Landis, gives us a brief look at what it really takes for the Farmers’ Markets to come to fruition each year.

Landis manages the market eight months of the year, meeting with local farmers in the off-season to prepare for the big Spring transition each year. 

“There are things about the market that are pretty obvious to me but aren’t to others,” said Landis. “They don’t understand the significance of food coming from the six local counties, for instance.”

She continues, “One woman said she thought that any food was organically grown unless it was marked otherwise. I told her I wished I lived in her world.”

Everything needed to set up the Market each Wednesday and Saturday is stored in big cargo vans, according to Landis. And a sunshiney set up is not always guaranteed.

One of the challenges Landis faces each Spring, she says, is “placing the farmers in the spaces over the first weeks, and dealing with the fact that Nature is unpredictable – birds are liable to eat your strawberries or a storm might destroy your beans… The market is always on the edge of chaos and we always want it to be lively but we want it to be safe for everyone.”

Presently the Corvallis Farmers’ Market has a membership of about 120 to 140 members, made up of mostly farmers. 

“The number of farmers and other vendors at any given market site and day varies by location and seasonally,” says Landis.

There are a large number of vendors spread across the Wednesday and Saturday markets, but to name a quick plenty, there are: The Thyme Garden, Honey Tree Aparies, Frankie’s Restaurant, Purple Moon Organic Espresso, The Mushroomery, Goodfoot Farm, Old Blue Raw Honey, and Gathering Together Farms.

“It’s inspiring to see what people can grow in the Valley on small farms,” says Landis. “It’s incredible to see the variety that people bring in on a Saturday. People come in from towns that don’t have a Farmers’ Market and are blown away.”

Without Rebecca Landis, the Corvallis Farmers’ Market simply wouldn’t be all it is today. We offer our gratitude to this incredible human, for all her organized efforts in bringing locally-focused food, produce, and fun to our city’s streets, year after year.

The Corvallis Farmers’ Market happens Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., on 1st & Jackson in Downtown Corvallis. 

Interested in becoming a vendor? Visit Locallygrown.org and hit the “information for vendors” tab to learn more or get started.  For a full list of vendors, explore the “maps & vendor profiles“ tab.

By John M Burt

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