Support your Farm Market! Shop Local!
By Gini Bramlett
For the Calapooia Food Alliance
For any community to have a successful farm market, it needs support from those who live in that town and the surrounding area. If that doesn’t happen, the market does not exist.
Our small town of Brownsville is fortunate to have an active food alliance whose efforts host a weekly farm market selling mostly organic produce, hand crafted soaps, bath and laundry products, plants, homemade breads, cakes and other pastries, as well as jams, jellies, pastas, honey, syrups, and much more.
Unfortunately, those of us on the board of the Calapooia Food Alliance (CFA) hear comments from around the community, such as, “Your produce is so expensive.” Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Just shop the organic food section in your local grocery store and compare prices. You’ll be surprised how much more grocery store produce really is, not even considering the gas costs for a 30-mile round trip. In addition, buying your produce at the Brownsville Thursday Farm Market will be supporting your local economy; more specifically, your local food producers. Without support, no community can be sustained.
My husband and I drove down to the southeastern part of Oregon and few weeks ago and were disheartened to see so many small towns practically deserted; empty storefronts, very few people milling around, no gas stations or grocery stores to be seen. The bleakness conjured up tumbleweed rolling across the roads.
Another comment we’ve been hearing is that we don’t have a very diverse selection of produce. First of all, it’s hard to predict what will be available and when. A local farm market is not like chain grocery stores that buy from out-of-area to provide out-of-season produce all year ‘round. The way to shop at local farm markets is to peruse the vendors, see what they have to offer, and plan meals around what’s in season and what is offered. You can’t expect to do all your grocery shopping at a small, local farm market, but what you do buy is fresher and better-tasting than any produce you can buy in grocery stores.
As for the absence of certain kinds of produce, this year has been challenging for local food producers. It takes a lot of water and constant attention to keep vegetables healthy and growing when the temperatures hover near the 100-degree mark for weeks at a time, as it did this year. Some of us lost most or all of our more heat intolerant crops. Raspberries and lettuces were hit hardest, as were other types of vegetables that didn’t appreciate the brutal heat.
Running small farm markets require a lot of planning and physical work by only a few dedicated people. The CFA board, and a few other volunteers, keeps the community garden and the farm market going throughout the growing season. And, if you’re a gardener, you know it takes dedication and hard work to produce healthy and robust produce.
Come down to the Brownsville Thursday Farmer’s Market during the hours of 3-6pm on the corner of Main and Park streets through the end of October. Your support will be helping keep Brownsville a thriving and diverse community. Shop local! The more support we get, the more vendors will participate.
And, a big thanks goes out to all the loyal customers who buy from the market week after week. We are so grateful for your support and your kind words of encouragement. Thank you so very much!
For more information about being a vendor, or to volunteer to help the CFA with the farmer’s market, call Market Mgr. Diane Remior at 541-359-5898. To help with the community garden, call Garden Mgr. Ally Maser at 303-726-5719 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.