The Wednesday Farmers Market at the Chetco Grange Community Center is alive and open for business, having seen its first successful year-round season.
“This is the first time we have been open year round,” said Linda Stimson, market coordinator, of the market that has been averaging 22 vendors during the winter months.
The market, which Stimson said started about five years ago, was previously closed during the winter months. However, “It was hard to get people to come back after a break,” she said. So it was kept open.
Keeping the market open was a boon for growth, and Stimson is hoping for more growth thanks to the state of Oregon approving the market to accept its Oregon Trail (food stamps) card.
“I’ve been working with the state since October,” Stimson said. The Oregon Trail card will be accepted beginning at the next Wednesday market on Feb. 26.
“I’m hoping food stamps will bring more customers,” Stimson said. “This will help to support the local economy.”
Food stamp customers may swipe their card and enter how much they wish to spend. They will receive tokens for the dollar amount, which they can present to the food vendors for their purchases. The vendors can then turn in the tokens at the end of the day for reimbursement, Stimson said.
Not only is Stimson the market coordinator, she has a booth of her own, selling garden-fresh produce, seasonal lamb and garlic. She calls her business Riyes Cottage Garden.
Another longtime vendor is Sylvia’s Farm Fresh Produce, based in Harbor. Sylvia Yock, who has been a part of the market for the past four years, said she offers all-organic, locally-grown produce.
Although the produce is not certified organic, Yock said she uses no pesticides or chemicals to raise her produce.
Produce she can’t raise she obtains from a grower in the Portland area.
Yock’s booth is perhaps the largest inside the Grange hall and offers many varieties of vegetables.
Another local grower is Bossi’s Mushroom Farm in Gold Beach, which specializes in oyster mushrooms.
Ron Bossi, who operates the booth, said he has been raising and harvesting mushrooms for 30 years. He has been a part of the market since last summer.
Bossi said in the springtime he goes out into the forest to harvest mushrooms, but most of the year he grows his own. He added if a person wants a type of mushroom he doesn’t have, he can have it imported.
All of the mushrooms he stocks are dehydrated.
“They will never spoil,” Bossi said.
At his booth, he also offers a plethora of recipes for customers to take with them.
Newcomers to the market, as well as new in business, are Todd and Kathleen Pearson who sell fresh-ground coffee.
They call their business Chetco Etc. and include the tagline “Your Local Coffee Roasters.”
Kathleen said Todd buys the raw coffee beans, which are gray in color, and then develop their dark brown color after Todd roasts them. He also grinds the beans himself.
“We started last August and we have gotten quite a following,” Kathleen said.
Other food vendors include a cooperative, canned tuna, cookies, cakes and candies.
Some vendors offer both food and handcrafted items, including Wade Enterprises which sells candy, cards and crafts, and Joy Attic Collectibles, which sells vintage jewelry and collectibles.
Debbie Ortiz, owner of Joy Attic, said Wednesday was her first time selling at the market.
“It’s been great; I’ll be back,” Ortiz said.
And her plans to be back are well underway. She is preparing to plant a garden and will add produce later this year.
Many other vendors sell nothing but handcrafted goods.
Bonnie Wilson, owner of Divine Spark, offers photographs by her husband, Steven, and rock art that she creates. The booth also offers greeting cards, note cards, copper bracelets and stained glass “Chakra radiators.”
Wilson said she is a full-time vendor who travels between festivals.
“I don’t like to be in a permanent box,” Wilson said, “This is why I’m at the farmers market.”
Another vendor, Jean Turner, owner of Jean’s Quilts, sells original-design and embroidered lap quilts. She displays quilts on racks designed and built by her husband, Howard.
Howard got his ideas from her quilting magazines and went to work building them to display the quilts as well as to sell them, Jean said.
She makes smaller quilts because larger quilts, with their cost, take longer to sell as people do not always have the money.
Turner said she enjoys selling at the market.
“We like what we’re doing,” Turner said. “It’s great fun.”
Other vendors sell soaps and medicinal salves.
The Wednesday Farmers Market is open every week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Chetco Grange Community Center, 97895 Shopping Center Ave., Harbor. It is currently held inside the building. Stimson said probably in May or June the market will move outdoors.