Oct. 19, 2019 — The final Florence Farmers Market of the season took place on Tuesday next to Veteran’s Memorial Park in Historic Old Town. The lines of customers waiting at the individual vendors booths was a clear indication that the community has accepted and embraced the concept of a regularly scheduled, organic and locally based food purchasing model.
“It’s been incredible,” said Lia Roussett, the market manager. Her impressions of the market’s second season were positive and appreciative.
“We increased the number of vendors at the beginning of the season and we have added a visiting vendor program, where we had Estill Farm and Yachats Brewing come for some time. We have a little more of a flow of vendors from that program, which has been great,” she said.
The Florence Farmers Market was created to not only offer healthy, sustainably grown fruits, vegetables and meat but also to support the farmers that produce those foods.
“These farmers are all part of your community. They are all based within 60 miles of this place,” Roussett said. “They are people who are doing work that is good for the land — and it also helps the water. Because if you are farming in ways that are not organic, there is going to be runoff and inputs to your soil that you do not want, and you are not supporting a healthy, robust ecosystem that maintains the vitamins and minerals in your food.”
Another important aspect of the market is the organization’s concern for those living on a fixed or lower income. The answer to that problem is a partnership with Willamette Food and Farm and local contributors which doubles the amount of food that can be purchased when a customer uses state issued Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Electronic Benefits Transfer, (EBT) card.
“We’ve added 72 new members to our SNAP and Double Up Program, which is really an important part of our mission,” Roussett added. “I think the Double Up Program is one of the most important things we do, and we are very proud of it. We also want to get the word out so that more families can get the food they want and support the farmers that are farming the land in a way that is sustainable.”
Roussett was also glad that some of the small issues that had come up during season one had worked themselves out.
“People have gotten used to where we are and there is less confusion about us and the Boardwalk Market. People have also gotten used to the grassy area. Plus, we’ve doubled and tripled our volunteer staff and we have more volunteers showing up every week,” she said.
One difference that customers may see next year is a possible change in the market’s operating hours. There have been some requests that the market open earlier in the day but there is a reason for the current opening time of 3 p.m.
“We may consider starting earlier, but the reason the hours are as they are, is so the farmers can have time to pick in the morning and then come with the freshest produce they have,” she said.
The staff and farmers that participate in the market not only need customers to come and buy food from them, but also they ask members of the community to support them at a fund-raising event that captures the essence of the idea behind the Farmers Market.
The event was held at a local agency that has made getting food to those concerned with food security a priority: Florence Food Share.
“We recently held our Farm to Table Dinner, it was a sold-out event, which was really great,” Roussett said. “Anthony from Organic Noodles and the vendors provided the produce and the vegetables, which were wonderful, and we were at Florence Food Share’s garden which was a really beautiful site.”
Roussett also said there were not any significant recurring problems this season, but there was one overriding sentiment that all of the individuals involved in the market wanted to share with the public.
“We are so grateful to the community for their enthusiasm and to the volunteers that have made this program happen,” she said. “We will be back next year with even more healthy, sustainable things to share with people.”