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Producing a market for greens
by MATTHEW NASH
With sunshine finally peeking out, plenty of local produce options are becoming available through the summer with the Sequim Open Aire Market.
The weekly Saturday market on Cedar Street from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. hosts up to six local produce farmers.
Customers’ staples range from greeny vegetables to strawberries to herbs.
The grim weather has held up some farms from coming out sooner than normal, said Market Manager Lisa Bridge.
“The public was itchy for their produce,” Bridge said.
In coming weeks, items like Nash’s Organic Produce’s carrots, berries, broccoli, basil, beets, string beans, cauliflower, and more become available at the market.
Mary Horst, co-owner of M&H Farm, said the weather has been a little bit worse than last year, but she’s not complaining.
The weather didn’t warm up enough for much of her crops to germinate, she said, but her rhubarb has been extraordinary.
Kia Armstrong, produce manager for Nash’s Organic Produce, said they pride themselves in bringing the farmer to the market because their sellers all help in the growing and farming and can answer people’s questions.
Currently, Nash’s goes to eight markets including Sequim’s throughout the week.
“It’s our hometown market and we want to support the larger vendor community,” Armstrong said.
“We want to contribute to the long-term success of the market. Plus, we love the community and it feels good to be downtown.”
Bridge said local farms are so vital to the market.
“We love the artisans and food vendors, but the farms are the backbone of the market,” she said.
“Without them we wouldn’t be here. The city supports us because we’re making fresh produce available.”
Horst and her husband Herman almost gave up the market business to retire but felt led to keep it going.
She said local markets are important for the community, especially senior citizens.
“In spring we were going to grow the same garden, so we figured we might as well expands its offerings,” Horst said.
“It had a lot to do with economy,” he said.
“We’ve seen a lot of people having a tough time like a lady the other day with three kids in tow. Seen kids licking their lips at the food. We were raised in the Great Depression and know what it’s like to be hungry.”
Armstrong said the market is extremely valuable to low- income families and seniors who might not have access to organic produce.
She said programs like Women, Infants, and Children’s Farmers Market Nutrition program help people afford something they might not normally try.
Several resources are available to low-income people.
• Women, Infants, and Children, WIC, offers a Farmers Market Nutrition program for $5 checks for use at farmer’s markets. Last year, 880 were used in Clallam County.
People must be WIC clients and go to a WIC agency to sign up. Locally, people can contact the Clallam County Department of Health at 417-2274 or 681-2938 for more details.
• First Step, 325 E. Sixth St., in Port Angeles, offers a tour of the Sequim market with a limited supply of $10 coupons for the market produce.
The tour is intended for low- income families but there’s no cutoff for eligibility. Call First Step at 457-8355 and leave a message for Betsy Wharton to request a tour.
• Senior Farmers Market nutrition Program through OlyCAP offers $40 in coupons once a year for use at Sequim’s market and other local markets with restrictions. Individuals must be 60 or older, or 55 if Native American. You or your household must meet certain income levels, too, and be a Washington resident.
Call for an application to 452-4726 or Ginger Bischel, executive coordinator, at 360-385-2571, ext. 6314, or visit OlyCAP in Port Angeles at 228 W. First St., or Port Townsend, 803 W. Park Ave.
For more on the Sequim Open Aire Market, visit www.sequimmarket.com. New vendor slots are always open by calling Lisa Bridge at 460-2668.