Beautiful Bounty

Coastal farmers’ markets beckon locals and visitors alike with veggies, fruits, flowers, and crafts.

Story by Christine Barnes - Photos by Jerry Barnes

THE MORNING FOG he morning fog is predictably heavy, leaving a natural dewy shine on the produce. Bunches of basil and baskets of red, yellow, orange, and purple peppers entice a strolling shopper. Cherry tomatoes in every hue of red, and baby greens so tender they call for the lightest vinaigrette . . . and maybe a freshly baked baguette, and oh, yes, a smear of creamy goat cheese. Look over there: dahlias the size of dinner plates and the colors of county fair balloons.

Each weekend from Astoria to Brookings, the coastal Farmers’ Markets lay out their bounty, a smorgasbord of flowers and produce picked fresh and carted from farms that bank the rivers off the Pacific Coast and from the Willamette Valley. The vegetables and fruits look like still-life paintings set up in the back of pickup trucks, on folding tables, or under tents. And the farmers look like, well, farmers. Mixed up in the sensory overload of lovely produce are works of art and crafts that range from just plain funky to fabulous. Forget the mega stores, this is shopping!

Cauliflower at the Farmers Market

sweet basil to bountiful bouquets

Reba Wittenborn of Portland is a regular at the Yachats Sunday Market. Filling her basket from Ann Jumel’s booth, she says, “She has the BEST! You can’t get any better.” Shoppers crowd around the veggies, grabbing the last bunch of basil or arugula, while Jumel smiles, answers questions, makes change, and rearranges the display with the ease of someone who has been a farmers’ market vendor for 18 years.

Jumel’s produce is grown three miles up Bay View Road outside of Waldport, on the family-owned Blue Heron Farms. “Family farm”

Birdhouse at Farmer's Market in Yachats

means Ann, her husband Dominique, and their teenagers. The season begins early for Blue Heron when plants are started in the greenhouses. Later, things go outside except for tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil that stay safe inside.

As is the case with many of the mar-ket farmers, Blue Heron’s produce is not officially certified organic, rather it is pesticide-free from sustainable farms. “We feed the Earth, we feed the soil, and it produces,” explains Jumel as she inspects a perfect specimen of their work. As is also the case with most vendors, they go to more than one market. For the Jumels, it’s Newport on Saturday and Yachats on Sunday.

Shelagh Howell’s snow peas, melons, green beans, lemon cucumbers, and Japanese eggplant are grown on her farm on the Smith River.

But it’s the squash that are showstoppers. The Tromboncinosquash “just grow that way,” she explains of the squash that look as if they were cast for a part in Lord of the Rings. “They come out weird and wonderful . . . perfect for salad, solid and crispy.”

Along the sidewalk in front of Yachats Commons, potters, knitters, fiber artists, carvers, and jewelry-makers chat with customers and explain their work.

Birdhouses designed and built by Robert Cox of Corvallis could be fea-tured in Extreme Homes . . . if they had a birdhouse segment. Cox found an old cowboy boot at the church rummage sale and it became a birdhouse, as did a logger’s boot. There are birdhouse single-family dwellings and large “condo” complexes. “I just do it for a hobby,” he says of his creations. “The birds seem to like them.”

grapes to goat cheese

North of Yachats, the Newport Saturday Farmer’s Market is an institution—the oldest continuous farmers’ market in the state of Oregon. “We have such a wide variety and wonderful array of vendors,” says market president Carol Moore. “And we’re here rain or shine!”

Booths and larger trucks fill a
corner parking lot, and up to 3000
customers shop here each weekend. What they find is everything to make a week’s worth of family dinners: grass-fed, antibiotic-free beef, lamb, and chicken from Bald Hill Farm; fresh salmon, oysters, and mussels from a local fisherman with a sign on his truck that reads “All proceeds go to my son in college;” goat cheese from Rivers Edge Chevre; and produce from farms such as the 56-acre Heavenly Harvest in Corvallis;

Gathering Together Farms out of Philomath; and Schindler Farms near Grand Ronde.Purple, yellow, and white cauliflower, apples, peaches, grapes, raspberries, strawberries, pumpkins, squash . . . you name it. If it’s in season, it’s here.

And figure on getting cooking tips from the vendors or other customers while you wait for your purchases to be weighed. “You’ve got to stuff and barbecue the pattypan squash,” says one man with a faraway look in his eyes. “Taste the purple and yellow cauliflower . . . each one has a different flavor,” encourages a vendor from Heavenly Harvest as he hands shoppers a slice of each.

Artists and photographers set up shop alongside weavers and

Jug found at farmers market

potters to add to the festive mix.
Elsie Chiavario has been weaving both Pendleton wool and denim rugs for 15 years. “I have 2000 pounds of wool to pick from,” she says. Elsie creates rugs on one of her five looms. And if you have a hankering to weave one yourself, she offers the opportunity with daylong loom instruction and a rug of your making to take home.

a good stem and the right attitude

Dahlias at the Farmers market

Back in Yachats, Betsey Price is waxing poetic about her dahlias. “My mother, Virginia, got me started,” she says, as she arranges magnificent blooms in jars. Today, Price is an award-winning grower. Not every blossom makes the cut: “What I look for in a flower is a good stem, right attitude looking at me or looking up. Otherwise it’s over the fence—there’s no room for them.”

The dahlia varieties have monikers like Black Narcissist, Pat Fearley, Dana, Barberry Bank, Just Married, and Show and Tell. “Some day there’ll be a Betsy,” she says with a confident smile.

Oregon Coast Farmers' Markets

Astoria Sunday Market
Sundays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., mid-May through mid-October;
downtown Astoria at 12th Street & Marine.

Astoria’s market began in 2000 and is one of the largest in the state. Two hundred and nine vendors covering six blocks house a mix of produce (organic and natural), flowers, seafood, arts and crafts, and an international food court with live entertainment. “It’s really incredible,” explains market manager Dr. Joyce Compere. “Last year, we did $1.5 million in sales in 22, five-hour days!”


Basket of Lettuce

Bandon Little Farmers’ Market
Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or when sold out;
July through September; Old Town Bandon, 350 2nd St.

Most of the 10 vendors feature organic or certified organic produce, which makes sense since this 8-year-old market is sponsored by the Bandon Organic Growers. “We call it ‘little’ for a reason, but we have some of the best produce you’ve ever tasted,” says manager Nancy Evans.

Brookings–Harbor Farmers’ Market
Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., mid-June through mid-October;
on the Boardwalk, Port of Brookings Harbor,
Lower Harbor Rd and Hwy 101
Location, location, location: a beautiful setting for up to 34 vendors, live music, fresh produce from local gardens and farms, baked goods, bedding plants, and all hand-crafted arts and crafts. 2007 will mark the 7th year of this market.

Coos Bay Downtown
Farmers’ Market

Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; mid-May through mid-October; Hwy 101 & Central Ave.

Seven years ago this market was “four vendors on a corner,” says former manager Diane O’Brien. Today, from a dozen to over 30 vendors participate, depending on the growing season. Produce brought from the

Valley, Ashland Bakery goodies, plants, and lots of berries are available along with a few crafts.

Florence’s Salmonberry Naturals Organic - Farmers’ Market
Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., June through October; Highway 126 & Quince St.

“We are known for our organic pro-duce,” says manager Jan Cole. The market goes into its 10th year in 2007. A core of three produce vendors expands to about ten during the season. Additional vendors offer nursery items, arts and crafts, and baked goods.

Lincoln City Farmers’ Market
Sundays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., June through September;

540 NE Hwy 101, De Lake School.
Artisans, entertainment, produce,
and specialty foods are all offered from about 25 vendors. The market is entering its 3rd season.

Saturday Market in Mapleton
Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.,
May through October; 10806 Highway 126.

2007 marks the 2nd season for
this market in a tiny “bend in the road” along the Siuslaw River. Alpha Farms, Waterfront Bakery from Florence, and artists from Florence and surrounding areas will all be on hand, according to
co-manager Jan Jagoe.

Newport Saturday Farmers’ Market
Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., May through October; Hwy 101 & Alder St, 1/2 mile north of Yaquina Bay Bridge.

Oregon’s oldest continuously operating market offers baked goods, bedding plants, seasonal produce, cheeses, eggs, and much more. “We’re known for our high quality vendor products,” says manager Carol Moore. “Everybody says that, but I think it’s really true.”

Tillamook Farmers’ Market
Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., mid-June through
September; 2nd and Laurel Ave.

As many as 1800 shoppers snap up everything from honey to artichokes, meat, and seafood at this bustling market. The 40 vendors offer about 60 percent produce/flowers and 40 percent arts and crafts. “We have just about everything you could think of,” says enthused manager Chris Kell.

Yachats Farmers’ Market
Sundays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., mid-May through mid-October;
Yachats Commons (former school on Hwy 101).

This 16-year-old market averages 25 vendors offering about 50 percent arts and crafts and 50 percent produce and flowers—and plenty of fun.

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