Philomath Farmers’ Market Looks to Give Away a Whole Lot of Green

With the ultimate goal of getting fresh food into the mouths of Benton County locals, It’s On Us (IOU) and the Philomath Farmers’ Market (PFM) are collaborating on Sunday, Aug. 28 to give out at least $10,000 in gift cards. And the collaboration goes beyond these two groups. 

Both IOU and PFM began in 2020 – yes, in the midst of a pandemic – with the goal of addressing food insecurity, as well as an aim to support local farmers and food producers. As an added bonus, they also have built a strong community through these ventures.  

IOU started out as a way to feed hungry people as the pandemic raged and spirits were at their lowest. It supports local restaurants by buying meals from them to give to local people in need of a good meal. To date, IOU has distributed more than $400,000 into the local economy. 

PFM felt the pressure as this is the third attempt to have a Philomath-based fresh foods market. They’ve done the market through the nonprofit Bountiful Backyard, so that every summer Sunday, farmers, artisans, musicians, and community members gather at 1050 Applegate St., to buy fresh local produce, baked and prepared foods, and hand-crafted goods. The cherry on the top is that this new enterprise won an award for Outstanding Small Market in 2021 from the Oregon Farmers Markets Association.  

Now, working with the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, these organizations are aiming at getting $10,000 or more into the pockets of local folks. 

Hoping to Double the Dough  

The $10,000 comes from American Rescue Plan Act funding and was awarded to Corvallis Sustainability Coalition by the Benton County Commissioners, as well as funds from the Benton Community Foundation, the Oregon Community Foundation and private donors. While this is a lot of money, Aliza Tuttle from the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition wants to aim higher. 

Plus, Tuttle’s organization is writing emails to businesses in Philomath and Corvallis asking them to donate enough to double the amount.  

“We’re just hoping that some press and some public support will help increase individual donors as well,” she said. “In the past, this organization has received donations for $2 to $20, and those small donations are the bread and butter.” But Tuttle wants some jam on the bread as well. “The goal is to give out either 800 $25 gift cards or 400 $50 gift cards, if we’re able to reach this amount.”  

The gift cards will be through the Kuto app, so the gift cards will need to be spent at food vendors who are set up to accept those funds. Kuto – an app much like Venmo but specific at the moment to Portland, Corvallis and Philomath – has put in their donation to the cause by not charging the coalition to load the gift cards onto winner phones. Vendors accepting the funds will still be responsible for the 1.5% charge to Kuto.  

One additional benefit of using Kuto is that the gift is destigmatized, as no one can know where those funds came from. And many who have received gifts of food from IUO through the app have gone on to give back to the organization.  

Local Actors a Pear-fect Addition to the Market  

Janel Lajoie, manager of the PFM and the owner of Mud Oven – a mobile pizza oven found every week at the market as well as around the Mid-Valley, is also very excited about the event. On Thursday, she arranged for the latest addition to the festivities – a bit of Shakespeare for the crowd.  

Corvallis Parks & Recreation will be bringing the players involved in the Majestic Theater’s production of Wars of the Roses to the market to perform some of the play. They will then stay around to let the folks interact with the players and their random Shakespearean insult generator, in case someone in the crowd is behaving like an “abominable shard-borne slug.” Other fun activities may also ensue.  

“The play will open September 16,” Juls Keefe of the Majestic said, adding “Our intention is to have a table set up” and to maintain a presence throughout the day.  

Lajoie is also hoping to have a fun food demo happening for this event. Other activities are in the works.  

Shopping at the Farmers’ Market is Un-beetable  

You can always help the market by shopping there. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday between June 5 and Oct. 16 at 1050 Applegate St., in Philomath.  

If you’d like to help out, you can give to IOU through the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition  

Donations can also be made to the PFM through Bountiful Backyard 

By Sally K Lehman 

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