From handmade wares to homegrown produce, find everything local at the La Grande Farmers Market’s opening day May 18 from 9 a.m. to noon.
Jessica Bogard, La Grande Farmers Market manager, took on her new role in November and said she expects at least 50 vendors at the market’s opening day in Max Square on the corner of Fourth Street and Adams Avenue, but shoppers will see anywhere from 30-50 vendors during regular Saturday markets.
The 2019 La Grande Farmers Market season runs from May 18 to Oct. 29, and the market will be open from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, according to www.la
The website also notes the market is much more than just a place to shop; it’s also a place to “interact with local farmers, artists, musicians, craftsmen and friends” while enhancing “the economic sustainability of our region’s farms by providing a venue for the exchange of quality locally grown goods while creating a vibrant community gathering place.”
The main goal of the market, however, is to give vendors a place to be successful, according to Bogard. As she puts it, “if they’re not successful, we’re not successful.”
“The La Grande Farmers Market is a business incubator, and provides a sense of community,” she said. “We provide a place where handmade and hand-grown goods can be sold in an open market by the vendors.”
Bogard, who has been on the farmers market board for the past eight years, said she hopes to establish a more formal volunteer program to make things run more smoothly for both vendors and visitors. While the market currently has three to four regular volunteers, Bogard said she would like to raise that number to 10, even if some people can devote only a small amount of time.
“It’s a fun place to be, but it is a commitment,” she said.
New this year, The La Grande Farmers Market is also partnering with Community Connection of Northeast Oregon, an organization dedicated to advocating for and assisting senior citizens, children, low-income persons, and persons with disabilities in attaining basic human needs and in becoming more self-sufficient, to boost food bank donations.
Visitors and vendors alike can bring food items, both perishable and non-perishable, to the market to donate to the food bank. Bogard said this is especially great for vendors who would normally throw out their crops that do not look 100% perfect but are still consumable.
“This way, a lot of fresh produce will stay here in Union County,” she said, adding that Community Connection currently has fresh produce donations shipped in from Portland. “Vendors can bring in their food and get a tax deduction.”
Other activities visitors can expect to see at the market this season include live music, themed-event days and a kids corner, which is a new activity area where children can do crafts with Art Center East representatives and play make-believe at a mock vendor stand.
“I’m excited for this year’s market,” Bogard said. “It’s grown, it’s busy and I think everybody’s excited to go there.”