The Wallowa County Farmers Market recently welcomed new market manager Emily Aumann into the fold. The new manager has spent most of her life on the west coast, as she grew up in Davis, California, with a healthy interest in agriculture and gardening. Her mother and grandfather kept gardens for many years.
“The farmers market in Davis is very well known, and making the rounds there was always a highlight of my week” she said.
She attended college at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in Sociology and Environmental studies. Some of her classes pertained to gleaning systems, and many of her class projects were related to food systems.
Aumann said that a friend introduced her to the area several years ago. When an opportunity presented itself about a year ago, she moved to the county.
“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know this place and getting involved in the community,” she said. “I’ve got a lot of faith in this community, and I really love this landscape. I’m really comfortable here.”
With her background, she quickly found job opportunities, and in addition to the market, she also applies her skills to Wallowa Resources, Building Healthy Families and the Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center.
The market job played into one of her major interests: Food. Aumann was already involved with the Food System Council and its meetings since she arrived, and when two people reached out to her on the same day and urged her to apply for the market. Aumann said that during research, she was impressed to find that the market had 56 unique vendors just over the past few years.
“That’s quite a few for a fairly small space that can hold a maximum of 20,” she said. “There are people who come in and out, and people who have been there consistently.”
“They knew I was interested in food and community, and it’s always been a big part of my life, socially and culturally with family and friends,” she said. “That’s how I ended up here.” Aumann doesn’t intend to participate as a market vendor this year, but she knew she wanted to be involved in some capacity with food system efforts in the county and her participation with the food council were a deciding factor.
“This was a new opportunity I hadn’t necessarily foreseen,” she said.
As market manager, Aumann will help set up and take down the market and allocate the vendor space locations at each market as well. She will also help manage vendor fees and thematic activities throughout the season and help organize entertainment. She will also facilitate the usage of Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits.
Aumann is enthusiastic about the reimplementation of the Co-op Booth. This gives an opportunity for growers who produce more food than they can use to sell off the excess alongside other market vendors.
A lot of people produce food around here and not all of them want to have booths. The manager is also planning to advocate to add more fresh produce to the market, which she admitted was a tough row to hoe with the short growing season.
The market held a successful market symposium at Fishtrap House on Saturday, April 21.
“We’re seeking to be a resource for community members to be able to share what they produce,” she said. “It’s a huge source of empowerment for both the consumer and producer and connection to be able to share what you produce and get compensation for it, and for that exchange to happen within the community where the goods are produced.” With the exception of a vendor with a La Grande address, all the vendors at the market come from within the county.
The market’s board president, Kristy Athens, said the board was glad to have Aumann on board.
Emily has some great experience related to food systems,” she said. “She got involved with the community from the get-go, and she’s very serious about food systems and very capable. We’re really excited to have her.”
The 2018 market season opens on Memorial Day weekend, Saturday, May 26. “We’re very excited for this market season,” Aumann said. We look forward to engaging with returning vendors as well as engaging with new faces.”