The Vancouver Farmers Market, which is in its 29th season this year, recently kicked off its 2018 market season March 17, and has already seen crowds of people visiting the market each weekend it has been open since.
Located at 6th and Esther Street in Downtown Vancouver, the market is “Southwest Washington’s No. 1 visitor attraction and home to over 250 vendors,” according to the Vancouver Farmers Market website. Vendors offer market visitors an array of local products, including fresh and local produce, flowers, plants, baked goods, tasty food, pet treats and accessories for yourself, home or garden.
This year, the market as a whole will focus on sustainability, said market Director of Operations Erin Timmerman.
“We’ve been strengthening our partnerships with some of the community organizations that we already have relationships with,” Timmerman said. “Clark County Food Bank and the Master Composters/Recyclers … we’re going to expand on some of the programs we already have with them.”
Timmerman said that this year, the market will start a small composting program with the Master Composters/Recyclers where the market will compost coffee grounds and fruits and vegetable scraps from the different farms that are vendors at the market. Fruits and veggies that are composted from the farms will be product that gets sun damaged, heat damaged, smashed into the bottom of baskets, etc.
In addition to the composting program with the Master Composters/Recyclers, Timmerman said the market will also partner with Waste Connections to do composting of food scraps.
“Waste Connections is going to partner with us to get some composting bins at the market for leftover food scraps,” Timmerman said. “Food vendors and customers can get accustomed to putting leftovers in the composting bins.”
Timmerman said the market also partners with the Clark County Food Bank to offer several programs, including a six-week gardening course for adults, which teaches them how to garden and grow their own food. She said the course is mostly focused on low-income adults and teaches container gardening so that participants can learn how to grow a garden wherever they live.
“Participants get seeds and starts, containers, soil, all the stuff they need to get a little garden going,” Timmerman said. “This will help supplement their fresh fruits and vegetables.”
There are lots of other things going on at the farmers market this year aside from the different sustainability programs. Timmerman said there are several new vendors at the market this year, including roughly six new Clark County farms. Timmerman said one of those farms new to the farmers market is Ash Tree Farms, a small mushroom farm based in Vancouver.
“They started cultivating mushrooms out of a warehouse in east Vancouver,” Timmerman said. “They’re currently growing oyster mushrooms and will be expanding eventually into growing other kinds. It’s some friends that got together and started the business.”
A new cranberry farm will also makes its debut this year at the market. Timmerman said they will sell a lot of dried cranberry products, jams, chutneys and more, all made with cranberries from their own personal cranberry bog.
Something else Timmerman is excited about this market season is the return of two local breweries that both got their start at the market several years ago – Loowit Brewing and Beerded Brothers Brewing.
“They both started in our market back when they were getting their feet underneath them, it’s fun to have them both come back now that they have permanent locations,” Timmerman said. “Both of them are going to do some fun limited release brews and will be serving all of their own beers at the market. The market is a great way to test some new products with the community. You get that instant feedback.”
Two of the top vendors at the market – Millennium Farms and Red Truck Farm, LLC – will also again be at the market, Timmerman said. This will be the 23rd season for Millennium Farms and the second season for Red Truck Farm. Millennium Farm offers a variety of veggie and fruit starts, and Red Truck is a certified-organic, family run farm out of Ridgefield. They offer seasonal fresh herbs, vegetables, orchard fruit and pasture-raised eggs.
The Vancouver Farmers Market will run every weekend until Oct. 28, rain or shine. Market hours are Saturdays, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., and Sundays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. To see a complete list of vendors and to see which weekends they will be at the market, visit www.vancouverfarmersmarket.com.