COMMENTARY

Jumping on the farmers' market bandwagon
Initially reluctant to go through all the trouble, one farmer discovers that the payoffs of joining this vibrant community are far more valuable than the increased profits the twice weekly trips to town bring.

Posted December 9, 2004

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Dear New Farm,

Our farm (Callahan's Produce) in Port Angeles, Washington is doing pretty well. We just started going to one of our local farmer's markets in September (we have two here in Port Angeles). At first it seemed like a lot of bother having to pick everything and get the tables and the canopy ready. Most things here at the farm are U-pick. But getting the customers here wasn’t enough. We had to go to them.

Our Port Angeles downtown market is open Wednesday afternoon (not through the winter) and Saturday 10-2 (year ’round). It seemed like so many of the vendors have regulars, people who come only to their stands, and come every week. Pretty soon, we started getting more folks looking our produce over and now we have some ‘regulars’, too. Our vendors are so much fun, too, and even though we may all carry similar products, new vendors are always welcome. And we sort of let one another know if we brought something maybe they don’t have, or if we run out we know another booth still has some. I think the customers appreciate that too. It's a fun, social time.

Food swapping is my favorite time! I love the huge snickerdoodle cookies our one lady brings from 50 miles away in Port Townsend. We have music and go and visit other booths. I’m so glad we started going! Yes, it’s a lot of work, picking and digging, cleaning and trimming, packaging and tying, loading and unloading, setting up...but when customers come back and tell you they want your carrots or loved your salad greens, ask if you brought any of those great sweet snap peas, it’s worth it. We do work hard, but we feel proud to offer great-tasting, great-looking and great-for-you produce. We tell our customers at the market about the farm, and that we are open seven days a week and are only five minutes away from the downtown farmer's market.

Our customer base has grown here at the farm, we know, just from the two months we have done the market; it looks like we are going to have to plant a whole lot more in 2005! I have about 30 pounds of garlic and well, let's just say "hundreds" of daffodils, tulips and iris to go in the ground in the next few days. Anyone wishing to email us, don't expect a real quick answer back; it's seed research time too. We have over 30 kinds of salad greens at this point, some of which we are going to be “experimenting with winter-cropping” in our southern-facing hot house. Here's to sore muscles and dirty hands!

Cookie Callahan
Port Angeles, Washington
calsproduce@usintouch.com