Farmers markets in Clark County continue on into harvest season, bringing colorful, healthy offerings and specialty foods to our community. In September and October you will find different produce than you did during the warm months. Specialty food vendors usually prepare their sauces, dips and breads year round. Add in the craft vendors, and you have every reason to continue trips to Clark County farmers’ markets as the weather cools.
Vancouver Farmers Market
Vancouver’s market is the big one. It is held downtown, adjacent to Esther Short Park. Farmers from as far away as Yakima and the Willamette Valley bring their produce and products. The market is Southwest Washington’s #1 visitor attraction and home to over 250 vendors. You can pick up a delicious lunch, shop for gifts and find plants for your garden. And, the flower vendors will wow you with their reasonably-priced bouquets.
The Vancouver Farmers Market is one market that welcomes Cinnamon, the Coonhound. In fact, as she will tell you, they usually have a home-made pet treat vendor there!
Want some healthy, innovative world cuisine? Stop by the Herb N’ Roots booth. Two local chefs, Alex Collins (St. Johns, Portland) and Josh Simpson (Vancouver, WA), come up with new dishes each week. They emphasize local and sustainable offerings and have a flare for vegan and gluten-free cookery.
The Vancouver Farmers Market is open through October 29 on Saturdays and Sundays. Look for their holiday market held at the Vancouver Hilton.
Salmon Creek Farmer’s Market
The Salmon Creek Farmers Market holds many surprises. First, the market sets up in front of and inside the lobby of Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center. The hospital wanted the market to be accessible to their staff and the community. After all, fresh local food is healthy food, right?
While shopping the market, I encountered some very innovative businesses. The Urban Snail sold quail eggs, chicken eggs and a variety of heirloom produce. But what was intriguing to me was the way owner, Rachel Feston, farms. She raises her products in central Vancouver! She has plots in neighbors’ back yards as well as space in urban lots. She pays her plot rent with produce, so it is a win-win situation for everyone involved in this operation.
Another creative venture is the Backyard Bounty Co-op. This business brings together green-thumbed urbanites from across Clark County, who love to grow, share and sell their local backyard bounty. You never know what you will find at their booth. I was drawn to the variety of purple eggplants. They sell a range of things including leafy greens, fruit, nursery stock and even tote bags and T-shirts.
Market coordinator, Ann Foster, is dedicated to promoting Clark County small farms. She shared, “We support 13 farms, all in Clark County and Woodland. We started small, but now we have 28 vendors.”
The Salmon Creek Farmer’s Market may not be huge, but there is everything you might want for a locavore meal. It is also a great place for jewelry and gift shopping. Be sure you go early for the best selection, and remember to check out the vendors inside as well as outside. The market runs through the end of September on Tuesday afternoons. Watch for their special Halloween market on October 31. There will be costume fun and special harvest produce.
Camas Farmer’s Market
Downtown Camas is the setting for the Camas Farmer’s Market. On Wednesday afternoons the lovely, tree-shaded downtown area is enhanced by a vibrant market of hot food vendors, farmers and specialty food purveyors.
Enjoy chef demos, healthy living and gardening information, kids’ activities and live local music. While you may see some of the same vendors as you will encounter at other area farmers markets, you will also see vendors such as Sweet Touch Bakery bringing their European delights to the market. Top Choice meats is there, adding some protein to the mix of veggies and fruits.
The Camas Farmer’s Market takes on a festive atmosphere with live music, the smell of Mexican food wafting through the air and families sitting on the library lawn to rest. It is right in the main downtown shopping area, so wandering through the boutiques and antique store is fun. The Camas Farmer’s Market runs through October 4 this year.
Ridgefield Farmers Market
The Ridgefield Farmers Market is located at the corner of Pioneer and Main Streets and is held on Saturdays. It is full of produce, arts and crafts and community service information. The market is enhanced with live music and adjacent special events put on by the city of Ridgefield. Be sure and watch their Facebook page to keep up with the activities. The market runs through the first weekend of October.
Why Farmers Markets are Important
As we shop, sometimes we do not think about where our food comes from, how it was grown or who profits from our purchase. The Clark County Food System Council puts out a fact sheet that really made me think about these issues:
- For every $100 spent at a farmers’ market, $62 stays in the local economy and $99 stays in the state.
- Farmers can make 70% more when you buy directly from them.
- Four retailers sell 38% of our groceries.
- Four companies process 80% of the beef we eat.
- 98% of the food we eat in Clark County is shipped in from other areas.
- The average veggie takes seven days and travels 1,500 miles to your store (ever wonder why store tomatoes are so blah?)
- Last, but not least… In case of an energy crisis or natural disaster we could be cut off from our rather distant food supply.
I will add the typical farmers market food just tastes better. The experience of shopping is interactive, and each time I go to the farmers market, I learn something. Farmers work hard and personally welcome your purchases and your interest. That is not something you can get at the big box store as you are checked out with a half-hearted, “Did you find everything?”