Chamber plans to do more outreach, possibly move market downtown in the coming years

TIGARD - After more than 20 years of putting on the Tigard Area Farmers Market, Stan Baumhofer and Marland Henderson are calling it quits.

'We (are leaving) because we're getting old,' joked Henderson, who also serves on the City Council.

'I have enjoyed it and I am going to miss it. I feel like I've done a great thing. We all have.'

The reins were officially handed to the Tigard Area Chamber of Commerce earlier this month, with Henderson and Baumhofer saying goodbye to decades of work.

It's a large undertaking the Chamber is taking hold of. The market draws an estimated 3,000-plus people every Sunday during the market season, and more than 75,000 for the season, according to organizers of the market.

The same market that people know and love'

Don't expect big changes at the market when it opens on Mother's Day, said Debi Mollahan, CEO of the Tigard Area Chamber of Commerce.

'It should still be the same farmers market that people know and love,' Mollahan said.

The biggest change people will notice, Mollahan said, is improved advertising and marketing. Henderson said he agreed that was an area that could be improved.

'We probably weren't doing as good as we could,' Henderson said. 'Other farmers markets had great outreach…it really needed to have bigger outreach.'

Mollahan also said she plans to seek out more vendors and offer cloth reusable bags for patrons.

Mollahan said that the 2012 farmers market will remain at Young's Funeral Home, where it has been since 2009, but said that there are talks of moving the market closer to downtown Tigard if organizers can find the right venue.

'That's one of the things we're talking about,' Mollahan said.

The market began on Southwest Commercial Street, Henderson said, but eventually moved because the city wasn't keen on having the market in downtown.

Henderson said that there have been opportunities to move the market closer to downtown, but nothing came of it.

'There is more willingness today (to have it be downtown) than there was before,' Henderson said. 'I think that willingness not only comes from having fresh fruit and vegetables, but (downtown) is where people want to go. People are doing more local stuff now.'

'This is our market'

The farmers market was originally started by the Chamber in the early '90s, but after three years the Chamber decided not to continue. A group of volunteers, including Baumhofer, Henderson and former Tigard mayor Jim Nicoli, kept the market going.

'It was the right thing to do,' Henderson said. 'It was a good thing for the community; it kept money local and it gave farmers someplace to go.'

Henderson said that what has kept him coming back to the market year after year was seeing the smiles on people's faces.

'There are people who come to the market every week. I've heard people say, 'This is our market.' It makes you pretty proud to know that.'

The market also helps the community come together, Henderson said.

'It happens almost every Sunday: Somebody will see somebody at the market and they'll say, 'I know you.' And they'll say, 'Yeah, you live on Katherine Street, right?' They've lived there for probably 30 years and didn't know who that person was. That's the start; it is the genesis of community. It's recreating that 23 weeks of the year and it is nice to be part of that.'

Henderson laughs to himself.

'Granted, at the end of the day my tongue is hanging out a little bit, especially if we had a really rainy or hot day, but I've never said it wasn't worth it.'

The Tigard Area Farmers Market opens on Mother's Day (May 13) and runs through October.

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