Growers talk issues, share ideas
Farmers markets to CSAs
The Jefferson County Farm Bureau Oct. 18 hosted a workshop for farmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSA) and organic producers.
In late 2011, the local farm bureau initiated a statewide committee to offer support to these types of agricultural entities. The purpose of the workshop, facilitated by Mickey Killingsworth and Nancy Klatt, was to inform participants of the benefits and information that farm bureau can offer them, as well as to discuss ideas and plans for improvement in operations in the future.
The brainstorming session produced a wealth of information and plenty of networking. Participants represented a good cross section of Central Oregon, including Janet Zuelke, manager of the Sisters Friday Market, Katia Steckley, a CSA operator from Ashwood, and Bob Larsell of Seed To Table Farm in Maupin.
A main topic was improved publicity -- letting the general public know about the markets and availability of fresh produce and farm products. Signage and other type of publicity ideas bounced back and forth. Dianne Read, co-manager of the Madras Saturday Market, informed the group that the market is entering its second decade of operation. Their mission for 2013 is "Cultivating A Healthier Community."
At the close of the market season this year, they had representatives from WIC (the Women/Infants/Children program) and the Oregon State University Extension providing samples of a dish prepared from food available at the market, as well as offering other tips on eating well. Madras Market also has a Holiday Bazaar each fall (this year it will be Dec. 8, at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds).
Steckley, who with her husband, Nathan, raises beef, pork and poultry in Ashwood, said they have a strong, steady customer base, but the majority of their customers are in the Portland area, necessitating traveling there for deliveries from their CSA.
Larsell has a large greenhouse farm in Maupin, raising everthing from "A to Z" as he put it, that is arugula to zucchini. He has been a steady presence at the Madras Market and also takes produce to The Dalles each week during the season. He is also responsible for bringing a first-ever Farmers Market event to Warm Springs toward the end of the season, and is planning to do so again in 2013.
The facilitators, Killingsworth and Klatt, were impressed with the enthusiasm of the group and the overall willingness to network with each other to promote the visibility and success of each others' enterprises in order to bring healthy options to their communities in the future.
Bringing fresh, healthy and locally produced food to the public and helping local producers is the focus of farmers markets, as well as the CSA's and Organic operators.
The Jefferson County Farm Bureau plans to hold another similar workshop, probably in the spring, as things start to get under way for the 2013 season.