By Jaime Fuller
A new little farmers’ market has sprouted up in south Corvallis, offering affordable produce to Corvallis’ sometimes forgotten bottom part. The market is open on Wednesday afternoons at Lincoln Elementary School under the covered area behind the school. All produce is sold for half of what is normally charged at farmers’ markets. The goal is to get healthy organic food available to low-income families at a reasonable price, and everyone is welcome. Currently the only other option in the area for fresh produce is First Alternative Co-op, which not everyone can afford to regularly shop at.
The Lincoln Farmers’ Market was started in early June by the Healthy Youth Program (HYP), a public outreach effort of the Linus Pauling Institute, and is managed by Simone Frei. It will last at least through the end of the summer. Most of the vegetables are grown at the Lincoln Garden by staff, students, and their families, with the Spartan Garden of Corvallis High School also providing some of the produce.
Farmer Luke Beene, who has partnered with HYP, offers a substantial presence at the market, partly thanks to his farm being conveniently located only a block away from the school. He accepts SNAP, food stamps, Farm Direct, Oregon Trail, cash, check, and market tokens, illustrating the market’s flexibility.
In addition to the grown goods, the students make their own dishes such as salsa and farmer’s cheese, and provide samples of each along with the recipes so you can give it a try at home. Since much of the food is grown on school property by students, overhead is lower, which is reflected in the prices. Beene is able to charge half price because he is subsidized by a grant awarded to HYP. The mini farmers’ market has been very successful so far in its first year. HYP hopes to grow the market by eventually adding more farmers.
Carmen Alzaga-Elizondo, a bilingual education assistant, affirmed the bright outlook for the market’s return next summer saying, “I think it will definitely happen again. It has so much potential.”
The Lincoln Farmers’ Market takes place at Lincoln Elementary School, 110 SE Alexander Avenue, on Wednesdays from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. For more information, go to http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/healthyyouth. There’s no set end date for the market yet, but it will be up for the next few weeks at least